Professionals in the energy industry and economic development discussed public power and renewable energy Wednesday night at an event organized by a community organization urging citizens to explore alternatives to Logansport officials’ pursuit of an investor-owned power plant.
About 100 people attended the event at the McHale Performing Arts Center Wednesday night organized by the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy for Logansport.
Leon Bontrager, president of Middlebury-based Home Energy LLC, spoke on the retail and wholesale outlook for wind and solar energy. He stressed renewable energy couldn’t be used on a scale that would take the place of Logansport getting its power from its coal-powered plant and Duke Energy, but that citizens could benefit from implementing the technology on their properties.
Bontrager went on to explain a process called net metering, in which people generating their own power, be it wind or solar, create enough during ideal conditions to the point where excess amounts are being sent back out on the grid. These surpluses are tallied as credits the customer can use when conditions do not support enough power generation for their renewable energy equipment.
Bontrager praised Logansport Municipal Utilities for offering net metering to its customers, as state law only requires investor-owned power providers to do so.
He cautioned against net billing, in which rather than customers being credited for the extra power they send out on the grid, they are paid back for it at gross cost.
Joe Scheidler, owner of Springcreek Landscaping in Logansport, uses technology and equipment provided by Home Energy LLC and participates in net metering. He said he traveled to the event Wednesday night in a car powered by a battery that was charged using electricity by the sun.
“This is done using a system that has no moving parts, requires no maintenance, lasts for decades, produces no carbon, is a buffer from present and future electricity rates and uses a clean, green, renewable energy source,” Scheidler said. “It’s not science fiction, it’s technology available today, and Leon made it happen for us.”