HTF - Solar panels on the farm

HTF - Solar panels on the farm

What if a sunny day could reduce the operating costs of your business?

It can for Joe Rotta.

If you'd visit his Merrill, IA, farm, you'd see there is something besides the corn popping up.

"There's a little hum to'em when the sun's out," said Rotta, pointing to banks of solar panels erected near a corn field. "When the sun goes down they just basically go to sleep and zero out."

You could say the energy produced by these six rows of panels is staggered, too.

It all depends on the sun.

"They will change," said Rotta. "If a cloud goes over this bank and this end will go down, but they're pretty much the same on a decent, sunny day."

When it's really sunny, and more electricity is produced than Joe's farm buildings can use, you'll see a higher number displayed on the power inverters.

The extra juice produced is "banked."

"There aren't any batteries, what we do when we produce excess electricity is we run it back in the line and MidAmerican uses it," said Rotta.

This turns into a credit for Joe when the sun's not shining as much.

But, he says the sunny days are good.

"We just have a minimum charge of $10 a month," said Rotta.

Before the panels were installed, the electric bill could run around $1,000 a month.

The initial investment was pretty high, but there are tax credits.

Plus, the stationary power generators have a life-span of up to 40 years!

"We're always trying to reduce our costs," said Rotta. "This is just another way to do it."

Joe raises hogs and the solar panels produce electricity for the hog buildings, as well as every other building on his farm.

He's thinking about putting up more in the future.

The panels have even held up well against severe weather over the past year, too.

If you think of a farmer that might be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at:

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