Alan and Maureen Jensen call Exira, Iowa home. Recently, they decided to invest in the growing green technology of solar panels and cut back their ever-increasing electric bill.
The Jensen’s farm is over 2,400 acres of corn and soybean fields. They also raise hogs – 9,000 of them to be exact. They have been farming for decades and it is hard work and the growing electric bills were adding to their work load.
Their electric bill averaged $1,000 a month and they knew those numbers were only going higher.
Alan Jensen explains, “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. We started looking at different ways of making our own electricity and it`s good for the environment and it`s sustainable."
After looking into their options, the Jensen's turned to solar power. They installed a nearly 36-kilowatt solar array. It has only been three months, but they are already seeing its benefits.
A report by the Energy Information Administration shows that the average Iowa home uses 900 kilowatt-hours a month. At the Jensen's farm they were using four times that amount. Their average was around 4,200 kilowatts- hours and with their new solar panels, they are creating an average of 5,300 kilowatt-hours a month. The leftover electrons are returned to the grid to be used when they are needed.
“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,” Alan Jensen explains. “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."
The Jensens have not paid an electric bill in two months. The cost of installing solar panels, however, can range from $20,000 to one million dollars depending on need.
The solar panels were put in place by Wind and Solar Specialists from Alta. The companies president Rob Hach says, “It will produce year round, even on a cloudy day like today it`s still producing electricity.”
Many Iowa farmers have turned to solar power
, but the Jensen’s farm is the largest privately owned solar powered farm in the state.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey