After installing a wind turbine on his farm last year, Solar Enterprises owner Glen White decided to expand his renewable energy resources and add a solar array panel.
The turbine went on line on Jan. 4, 2010, and after a three-month process of having the panels created and installed, the solar panel went on line March 4.
“We were producing enough energy for our farming operations, but during the summer months, we were running short of covering a full bill,” White said.
Since the wind tends to die down during the hot summer months, White wanted something else to pick up the slack. He decided to install a five-kilowatt solar array system that consists of 22 panels.
He knew installing the solar array would cover the rest of his bill.
“To cover the complete electric bill, it was necessary,” he said. “When the wind is blowing the sun is not shining, but when the sun is shining the wind is not blowing. To be totally self sufficient, you need both. To minimize your electric bill you can get by with one or the other.”
So far, White has seen benefits from installing both items on his property.
“Right now, I have over 2,000 kilowatt credit to my electric bill,” he said. “I probably won’t have to use that credit.”
In fact, he has enough credit built up he is considering an electric car.
Last year alone, his wind turbine produced 12,000 kilowatts of electricity. The solar array has produced an average of 500 to 600 kilowatts each month since March.
“It’s a little better than I expected and we aren’t even into the full sun months,” he said.
In addition to the benefits for his business, White also installed the equipment as a test facility and educational facility to teach other people who might be interested in having wind turbines or solar panels installed.
“I’ve been doing a lot of educating and have had interest as we steadily move forward,” he said.
Through his business, Solar Enterprises, White sells and installs the wind turbines and the solar arrays. All products, he said, are made in the United States.
White first became interested in renewable energy while living on the river as a naturalist. Seven years ago, he installed special tubes and a solar water heater to heat the water in the house.
He eventually decided to install the 140-foot tower with a 10-kilowatt Bergey wind turbine on his farming operation.
“What made the difference was when the federal government offered a tax credit and when the wind turbines could pay for themselves,” he said.
While it is not difficult to install the equipment, White said a customer would definitely want a professional to do the work.
He said customers have several options for solar panels. The system is tied into the electrical grid that provides power across the United States.
The energy is pumped into the electrical grid and a meter measures the amount of energy produced and used at the business operation.
For those considering the use of renewable energy, White said the government is still offering a grant.
“The biggest thing I tell people, if you are thinking about it, just do it,” he said. “If you keep thinking about it, you will eventually think, ‘If I did it 10 years ago, I could have had it paid off.’”
Most turbines or panels can be paid off between in 10 to 15 years, he said. From the moment the alternative energy source goes on line, people can see savings instantly.
White recently offered information to West Central Schools, which are planning to install a 900,000 kilowatt wind turbine.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
White says he promotes the use of renewable energy for the good of the planet.
“To stop the carbon footprint that’s being produced by fossil fuel,” he said.
Want more info?
Visit Solar Enterprises online at www.solar-enterprises.com. Solar Enterprises business owner Glen White can be reached at 574-946-3233 or 574-225-3233 or via email at email@example.com. The business is at 4415 W. 200 South, Winamac.
• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.