Gerry Delong’s electric bill for March was only $8.73. “That was just our first bill,” Gerry said, since they installed 1,000 solar panels to their barn roof on Hope Valley Farm. Since then, their electric bills have still been a lot less than before, averaging around $300 a month — compared to their previous $3,000 average summer electric bill. Although the entire solar panel system costs around $1.1 million, Gerry said they applied for grants to help defray the cost and hope to have the entire expense paid off in six or seven years. “After that, it’s money in the bank,” Gerry said.
PPL also pays the DeLongs for the energy generated that they don’t need. Excess energy goes back into the grid through the meter, in a process called net metering, and PPL buys that energy back from their farm. They can also credit energy to other PPL accounts within a two-mile radius.
Gerry enjoys keeping track of their energy credits through the website of the inverter company that logs their energy usage. “Each kilowatt is a credit,” Gerry explained.
The DeLong brothers contracted 140 energy credits for three years, and so far have received about half of those credits. “I (now) wish we would have contracted all of them,” he lamented, noting the many types of energy projects currently out there. The solar panels have a 25- to 30-year life expectancy.
(Reprinted from Alternative Energy, Lancaster Farming, Saturday, September 10, 2011)