Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Ok, this seems to be an echo from the Solar Initiative over in CA ...
- Move over, Jersey tomatoes. Some innovative New Jersey farmers are producing a new crop: energy.
The farmers are putting solar-power systems over barn roofs and fields to make electricity for their homes, farm buildings and irrigation systems while reducing pollution with a clean, renewable energy source.
A further lure for the farmers is a program that uses state rebates, credits and investment money to cover all the upfront costs of the expensive solar-power systems, including maintenance. The program also guarantees farmers at least 10 percent savings on their electric bills.
- Lee, who last fall became the first New Jersey farmer to get a solar-power system under the project, said that on sunny days, his system produced more energy than he used.
"What I don't use goes back through my line and into the public grid, and I get credit for it," he said. "It makes a lot of sense."
Lee had his system installed on a barn roof that faces south, where it captures the most sunlight and shades the roof, keeping the turkeys inside cooler during the summer.
- The partnership uses rebates from the state Board of Public Utilities' Office of Clean Energy to cover about half the systems' costs, said Pamela Frank, Sun Farm's director of marketing and public relations. Under a second state program to promote clean energy, credits called renewable-energy certificates for the solar power the farmers produce are sold to utilities or companies wanting to support renewable energy.
In Lee's case, Frank said, the combined financial incentives covered about two-thirds of the $386,000 cost of his system and his 20-year maintenance contract with Sun Farm. Credits for the solar power he produces will pay off the balance on his system over 20 years. The system could last 40 years.