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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Residents find value in collecting wind, solar power

From an article by Keith Uhlig in the Marshfield News-Herald:

Greg Stark gets a charge out of sunny days with a brisk wind. Literally.

When conditions are perfect, the sun soaks into the solar panels he has installed on his house and in his yard, and the wind spins the prop of a wind turbine located on a tower about 140 feet in the air. If all components are running at maximum, they can generate about 25,000 watts of power per hour.
Stark is the first to admit that it's a rare day that the systems churn at full capacity. But it's also a rare day that he needs to use power produced by Wisconsin Public Service.

Since he had the wind turbine installed in December 2002 at his home southwest of Edgar on Highway M, he has never written a check to Wisconsin Public Service. Instead, he sells the surplus power he produces back to the power company, and he receives checks that range from $25 to $250 per month.

Stark has invested more than $100,000 in the power systems, so it'll take years for them to turn a profit for him. When he installed the wind turbine, he thought it would pay for itself in about 20 years, he said. But with the rising cost of electricity, he expects that to be cut in half.

He's happy to share the costs and benefits and estimated payback time with anyone who asks. But for him, installing the green power systems is more about self-reliance, efficiency and for "the next generation," Stark said. "It maybe sounds funny, but people need to look at the future. ... Earth is a small planet."

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