For rural urbana farmer, solar power is cool _ news-gazette. com

URBANA — After installing solar panels at his Blue Moon organic farm, Jon Cherniss will be relying on the sun not only to grow his vegetables come summer, but cool them, too.

The ground-mounted solar array that was installed in September is designed to provide up to 50 percent of the electricity used on his rural Urbana farm, powering lights, coolers that keep the veggies fresh, fans that circulate air in the greenhouses and more.

“The sun is much more of an ever-producing energy source than gas or coal, so long-term, I think it makes great sense, and short-term, it made fantastic sense as well just because of the incentives,” he said.

Cherniss is one of 81 Champaign County property owners who installed a solar array last year through Solar Urbana-Champaign, a residential and commercial group-purchasing program in which participants pool their purchasing power to secure significant discounts that make going solar more affordable.

The 605 kilowatts installed in Champaign County were slightly more than what was installed in a similar group-buy program in Chicago in 2014, according to Scott Tess, environmental sustainability manager for the city of Urbana, which partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to bring the solar program here.

In September, a solar array was also installed at Ellen Jacobsen’s practice, Jacobsen Dermatology in Urbana. Regional rural bank salary She first became interested in going solar after attending a climate conference. What is a rural bank She came home excited to go solar, she said, but ran into barriers — finding an installer, the expense and lack of sun exposure at her house.

“And it’s wonderful. Regional rural bank vacancies I feel like I’m at least doing my teeny little part to make this situation better,” said Jacobsen, who checked it every day in the beginning. Regional rural bank recruitment “I’m pretty excited to see what it will do in the summer. Regional rural bank latest news In September, I had some really good days that were productive, producing more energy than we would use on an average day.”

The combined annual energy cost savings of the 81 participants is estimated to be more than $67,000 and will offset more than 1.1 million pounds of CO2, according to Tess, who explained that due to the success of the local program, Bloomington-Normal is putting together a similar one.

According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, there were more solar photo voltaic installations in the United States in the third quarter of 2016 than in any previous quarter.

More than 4,100 megawatts of solar PV were installed from July to September 2016, and the national trade association for the solar industry also reported a strong pace in the fourth quarter.

Cherniss, whose farm is located several miles northeast of Urbana and supplies local farmers markets and restaurants with organic produce, said cost was one reason he went with a system that would meet just half of the electricity needs of the farm.

“The initial outlay for the system was fairly expensive, and we wanted to keep that down. Regional rural bank exam pattern But also, we felt we could do a lot of things to reduce our energy consumption, leaving 50 percent to expand (the PV array) later or work very hard at reducing. Regional rural bank result This is a nice happy medium,” Cherniss said.

The Solar Urbana-Champaign program addressed all those concerns, holding more than 20 Solar Power Hours — one-hour presentations on market trends, the basic components of a solar photo voltaic system, the installation process, incentives and steps for participating in the group buy.

“Part of our success was not just driving down the installed cost,” Tess said. Regional rural bank recruitment 2016 17 “We also tackled the uncertainty. Regional rural bank exam date 2015 People have a lot of questions. Arunachal rural bank It’s a new type of asset in people’s homes and businesses.”

Some of the hidden benefits, Tess said, include a 30 percent federal tax credit and state incentives through the purchase of renewable energy credits. Binan rural bank Agriculture businesses have additional incentives through the U.S. Rural bank login Department of Agriculture.