Sunbathing for Energy

     Every day our world is changing to benefit people and the environment. Many people are changing the way that they live by going green. Farms have started to go green to support their potato houses. And schools are starting to go green to support buildings, while helping the environment. There are many ways that you can go green. But for places that use a lot of electricity, solar panels can be one of the best choices. Though they can be a lot of work to obtain, they are very beneficial. 

     Among the many farms that are starting to use solar panels, Double G farm in Blaine has had them since October of 2019. Tracey Wright, Double G’s accountant, was a big part of getting this project going. The farm decided it would be a good addition because it could benefit them in many ways. Money can be one of the factors in getting solar panels. Potato houses use a lot of energy for the refrigeration systems. 

     Solar panels cut the cost down a lot. They are also better for their farm. Double G chose trackers so that the panels follow the sun to collect as much energy as possible while using fewer panels. “Even though most of our power is used for air conditioning, we can build up solar credits and use it when needed,” Wright said. They did this because it takes less land, while the panels get as much energy while the sun is up and shining.

      But most important for their farm, they wanted to give back to the environment and benefit their customers. Most people enjoy knowing that the farm they get potatoes from supports their environment. “It helps market our potatoes because it shows them we are trying to give back to the environment,” Wright said. Through the years, they have been able to support their customers’ needs and give back to the environment. 

     UMPI is one of the schools that have started to go green. Starting to go green would not have happened without the help of Dr. Deborah Roark, a member of UMPI’s executive leadership, and Joe Moir, director of facilities. They first started going green in 2009 with a wind turbine. 

     They continued to go green by adding solar panels in 2010. The Folsom/Pullen Hall building went completely green when they renovated. Unfortunately, in 2017 there were some complications with the wind turbine and they needed to find an alternative energy source. “We had to come up with another solution for alternative energy sources that would support our campus,” Moir said. They then started the solar panel project. 

     It took till this past year to get the panels up and running. UMPI pushed through the setbacks and needs in order to do this for the campus. 

     There are many things that go into installing solar panels, things that you might never think of. Moir had to change around things so that he did not blind planes as they went by. “Really the glare from those? You would never think about the glare,” Moir said. 

     When COVID hit, it was unexpected. It was the last thing they thought would be a problem for their project. “We were supposed to roll out pre-COVID. But once COVID hit, it was pushed to the back burner,” Moir said. Once they were able to start back up again, they found that it was the best choice they could have made. “We are so thankful to have someone like Joe here to keep things going,” Roark said.

     UMPI had to go through many things to get the solar panels, some of them unexpected. But it was all to benefit the school and the environment. Other schools, farms and more go through these obstacles. They do this for the many benefits. “Everyone goes through this process. But if you’re able to get through it, there is a huge benefit at the end of the day,” Moir said. Going green is one of the best choices Double G farms and UMPI could have made to give back to the environment. 

With the help of solar panels, farms and colleges can now go green and benefit our environment