Solar panels prove to be worthwhile investment for Tulare man
Investing in renewable energy infrastructure has proven worthwhile for a Spink County man and for some Clark County landowners.
For Jamie Fisk of Tulare, his investment in solar energy began when he needed to replace his home’s water heater decades ago.
“We put two hot water solar panels in in 1998,” said Fisk, who was a teacher in Redfield. “I was teaching sixth-graders about solar, nuclear and electric energy.”
The panels heated an 80-gallon tank, though with four children Fisk regrets that he didn’t get a bigger tank.
“What we saved in our electric bill was substantial. When you heat your hot water with electric, it costs you a lot of money. That’s why they put the water heater right under the kitchen and bathroom where there’s the greatest demand,” Fisk said.
“I put my water heater on a time clock, so it only heats three periods a day. We saved enough in seven years to pay for that $3,000 system,” he said.
In 2008, he bought eight solar panels and put them on the roof.
“On a good sunny day we’ll generate 23 kilowatts,” Fisk said.
While visiting on Aug. 20, he said the panels had generated about 14 kilowatts, “but it’s been kind of a cloudy day.”
“I did a survey on the house about how much we use. We use about 12 kilowatts per day,” Fisk said.
The solar panels have taken Fisk’s energy bill down to about $400 per year, he said. His bill in July was $35.
Fisk said the panels generated 496 kilowatts last month, and he sold 287 kilowatts for $5.74 back to Northwestern Energy.
“South Dakota does not have net metering, so electric companies do not have to pay what they charge (for electricity),” he explained.
Net metering allows customers to sell electricity they generate with solar power back to utilities.
Since NorthWestern Energy provides the infrastructure, it is able to charge 12 cents per kilowatt for energy Fisk has to buy. He only gets two cents for every kilowatt he sells.
He said the two water heater solar panels have saved him about 40 percent on his electric bill. And he noted that the only downfall is having to plan usage times for things like showers, washing dishes and laundry.
In Clark County, the Crocker Wind Farm has provided a way for landowners to diversify their income.
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., visited the wind facility on Aug. 13, as part of American Wind Week.
Johnson said the wind farm has generated $24 million in revenue for landowners and $18 million in tax revenues for state and local tax authorities.
“During a time with soft commodity prices and a tough year for weather, it’s good to have a diverse revenue stream,” he said.
Economically, Johnson said larger wind energy projects such as Crocker Wind Farm make sense. The wind facility has the ability to generate 200 megawatts per year.
“Your large utility scale projects are always going to produce energy more efficiently and more effectively,” he said.