Brightonwoods Orchard

“We have lived in a home we built in 1983 at Brightonwoods Orchard near Burlington, WI.  It was appealing to look into alternative renewable energy sources at that time, however, wind & solar were very expensive with long pay back times and long term maintenance costs of particularly wind generators with their many moving parts.  We opted instead to build our home with rough cut lumber constructing 6 inch thick walls, hyper-insulation, only two small north sided windows and 3 wood burners for heat plus an LP gas furnace. About 15 years later we again looked into alternative energy sources from solar and geothermal, but again opted out for financial reasons.  About 2014 we needed a new furnace and again we looked into solar and geothermal, but instead purchased a less expensive heat pump system that has worked well for summer cooling but is less efficient for heating once the temperature drops below freezing, for which we re-installed another LP gas furnace.  In the spring of 2016 we received an e-mail from the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce making us aware of the SWSGB program being coordinated by Arch Electric and we contacted energy consultant Angie Domagalski.  She came to our farm and we discussed various installation options and sites.  After she had explained the basics of a private home versus a business installation, it became obvious to us that the best costs and benefits would be achieved by utilizing one of our three business electric meters as opposed to one of our two residential meters.  Thus we located our 56 panel solar installation on one of our two barns that has an almost perfect roof orientation toward the south.  We then connected, via an underground cable, this installation to our business’s largest power consuming facility. Combining initial federal tax credits with the SWSGB refund and the Focus on Energy refund plus the ability to depreciate all the equipment installed made good financial sense. This combination of benefits dropped our systems projected payback time to just over 6 years (down from 10-12 years from previous calculations).  With a system that should only loose 0.5% of its efficiency per year over the 25 years of its expected life warrantee, this seemed like a good deal.

 

We have been quite satisfied with our PV system over the past 14 months and have recently decided to install 21 more panels this spring to compliment our present system.  We are still considering a PV system for one of our two residencies where the payback is a bit longer at 8-9 years.”

Bill Stone, Owner/Operator, Brightonwoods Orchard

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This post was written by Brianna Russell