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From the sun December 8, 2009

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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ELECTRIC SUN: Joe and Lee Scheidler stand beside the 30 solar panels they installed on their property this year to offset their consumption of electricity. So far, they have been able to cut their utility bill in half and reduce their “carbon footprint.”

Reprinted from the Logansport Pharos Tribune
Published: December 07, 2009 09:34 pm

http://www.pharostribune.com/local/local_story_341213455.html

Local couple installs solar panels to offset energy costs.

Joe and Lee Scheidler couldn’t stand to see sunshine wasted any longer so the Cass County couple installed an array of 30 solar panels that turns the renewable resource into electricity.

By doing so, the owners of Springcreek Landscaping lowered their monthly electric bill by more than half and did their part to reduce the amount of pollution from burning fossil fuels.

On Sept. 30, the Scheidlers started producing energy on their property north of Logansport. So far they have saved 1,594 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and produced 937.5 kWh of power.

According to Joe’s figures, all the carbon they currently generate in a year’s worth of driving will be offset by their solar array.

Joe said in November, one of the worst months to tap into solar power, they used 64 percent less electricity compared to the same month last year. They are looking forward to the summer when the electric meter spins in reverse, which means they will be putting power back onto the power grid and getting compensated for it.

The couple has partnered with Logansport Municipal Utilities in a pilot program so that on days the Scheidlers are producing more energy then they are consuming they receive credits that lower their monthly electric bills. The rate, which is still being finalized, is typically the same rate LMU charges.

LMU distribution manager Bob Dunderman says Joe and Lee are the program’s first customers. To record electricity production, LMU installed a special meter at their home that reads how much the Scheidlers have produced and how much LMU has provided.

The partnership may seem to be contradictory since LMU is in the business of producing electricity but Dunderman thinks cooperation with independent producers of “green” power can be beneficial, especially in the summer months when LMU must purchase supplemental power from Duke Energy. He said the solar power energy would reduce the amount they buy.

Because Joe and Lee want to minimize their impact on the planet, they feel their partnership with LMU is a win for everyone.

“This is 100 percent pollution-free energy, and the more clean energy a utility handles these days, the better,” Joe said.

Laura Ann Arnold, president of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association board of directors, agrees.

“Whether you do or don’t agree that there is a problem with climate change, the reality is that coal, where we get most of our electricity from, is a finite resource,” she said.

Once the capital investment is made in a renewable energy system, such as the Scheidlers solar array, unlimited energy is produced without cost or detriment to the environment, Arnold added.

Even after receiving a USDA grant, the Scheidlers still had to fork out thousands of dollars upfront to install their system. They will receive a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy efficiency improvements but return on their investment will take as long as 19 years.

Joe pointed out, though, that they would get no return if they did not make the investment and because they have their own source of electricity they have a permanent buffer to increasing fossil fuel costs.

“The sun has not raised it’s rates for 4.5 billion years,” Joe said.

Life expectancy of the system is up to 35 years for the photovoltaic panels and 15 years for the inverter, which changes the current from DC to AC. The system works best on sunny days but still produces electricity on cloudy days. Maintenance is easy because there are no moving parts.

“It’s just incredible technology,” Joe said.

Joe, Lee and Arnold all hope there will be more incentives made available for Hoosiers.

“People want to take advantage of these new technologies and with proper state and federal incentives, more people will,” Joe said. “Our legislators need to hear from us, learn of the demand, work to support incentives and take steps to move manufacturing of clean energy components back to the USA.”

• Kevin Lilly is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or kevin.lilly@pharostribune.com.

Joe and Lee Scheidler with Springcreek Landscaping in Logansport are members of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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