Spencer Pope Farms
Location: Carthage, MS
Though Spencer Pope was one of the first farmers in Mississippi to use solar technology, initially he was somewhat skeptical about the investment. He started relatively small, with “sort of a test,” installing enough panels to cover about 20% of his poultry farm’s electricity use. He received a 2009 REAP grant of $20,000 for his pilot project, reducing costs enough to make the project possible.
Spencer Pope’s initial 8.4 kW photovoltaic system quickly turned him into a believer. He was saving about $250 per month on his electricity costs, and the panels were surpassing projections on electricity production. Within a year, he pursued a second solar project, adding an additional 38.7 kW to the system. Now the solar panels generate 100% of the farm’s electricity needs.
He notes that solar is becoming more and more affordable, and if it made economic sense for him in 2009, it makes even more sense for farmers today.
“I would encourage any farmer to look at it if they have access to the REAP grant,” Pope said. “With a 25% cost share, and with the prices coming down so much, it’s become very affordable for farms to do this. I’m very pleased.”
Pope said his main motivation for pursuing renewable energy on his farm was to cut back on utility costs and make a smart economic choice to support his family.
“We’ve got so many family farms struggling, and the main reason is that utility costs are through the roof,” he said. “Especially with solar, now that prices have come so extremely down in the past two years, we really are at the point where this grant will be the tipping point. I think [renewable energy] really would help my friends and neighbors here. I would encourage [legislators] to fund it, and I would encourage my neighbors to pursue it.”