Harvesting the sun for homegrown energy

Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: General |

From an article by Jim Massey in The Country Today:

RIDGEWAY — Penny Koerner said she thinks it’s ironic when people pull into her driveway in a $40,000 sport utility vehicle and ask what the payback is on the solar systems they have installed on their farm.

“The first question is always, ‘What’s the payback?'” Penny said. “You don’t drive that SUV out of the (car dealership) lot and ask what the payback is. We’re paying ahead for the kids, we’re not paying back.”

Penny and Jerry Koerner operate Sun Harvest Farm near Ridgeway in Iowa County. In the past five years they have installed two solar photovoltaic systems, a solar hot water system, improved the efficiency of their 100-year-old farmhouse and built and installed a hot air collector to provide heat in their barn workshop.

Sun Harvest Farm was the last of four stops on a Nov. 13 southwestern Wisconsin Homegrown Renewable Energy Bus Tour. Other stops were the Montfort Wind Farm, where wind energy and the low-carbon fuel standard were the topics of conversation; Meister Cheese in Muscoda, where the plant burns 27 tons of locally sourced wood chips a day to heat and power its plant; and Cardinal Glass in Mazomanie, where 54 employees were recently hired to make photovoltaic solar panels.

Margaret Krome, policy program director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, has been pushing policies to promote homegrown renewable energy production.

Some of the policies are being considered by the state Legislature as part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.


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