With an ever-increasing electric bill, one Iowa farmer decided to take a green approach to fix his problem.
Alan and Maureen Jensen of Exira decided to invest in a growing trend, tapping the very same power that helps their crops grow.
The Jensen's have been farming for decades. They farm 2,400 acres of corn and soybeans and raise 9,000 hogs. However, the bills that come with such a big operation started to add up.
“We use a lot of electricity with all the livestock and the grain that we have to handle and we kept seeing the rates go up higher and higher, almost to the point where it`s unaffordable,” says Alan Jensen.
The Jensen's were seeing their electricity bill average $1,000 a month and they knew that number would keep rising.
“We started looking at different ways of making our own electricity and it`s good for the environment and it`s sustainable,” says Jensen.
They turned to solar power and installed a nearly 36 kilowatt solar array.
Three months later, they are already seeing the benefits.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the average Iowa home uses 900 kilowatt-hours a month. The Jensen's were using more than 4 times that at 4,200 kilowatt-hours. Their new solar panels are producing an average of 5,300 kilowatt-hours a month. The extra electrons go back to the grid and can be used when the family needs it.
“We are building credits, because this Fall, all the corn drying fans will start blowing a lot of air. We`ll start using a lot of kilowatts and we`ll probably start working those credits we built up back down,” says Jensen.
Wind and Solar Specialists out of Alta, Iowa installed the solar array.
“It will produce year round, even on a cloudy day like today it`s still producing electricity,” says President of Wind and Solar Specialists, Rob Hach.
Hach says the Jensen’s are like many farmers turning to sustainable energy to sustain the farms future.
“The cost of the power keeps going up and as the bills keep getting higher and higher, I think this is the way to go,” says Jensen.
The Jensen's say they haven't paid an electric bill in two months.
However, the cost of installing a solar array can range from $20,000 to one million dollars.
The Jensen's farm is the largest solar array privately owned in Iowa.