Location: Garretson, SD
Technology: Wind and Solar
Paul Carrette founded his company, FlagShooter LLC, in rural Garretson, SD, based on an invention that saves time and energy for companies that identify buried utilities. The FlagShooter is a device that secures marking flags into the ground — a task usually done by hand. Carrette said many of their customers seek to reduce their carbon footprint. This, among other reasons, encouraged him to explore tapping renewable energy. He decided to install a 20 kWh hybrid wind and solar project in 2012, with the help of a $36,000 REAP grant that reduced project costs by about 22%.
Carrette brought the same “can-do” spirit that built his company to building renewable power. He said installing a renewable energy system was a sensible long-term investment that, with the availability of REAP funding, would help FlagShooter stay cost competitive despite rising electricity rates.
“I’ve always thought that renewable energy was unique, but out of reach,” he said. “But with the grant money, that put [the project] in reach and was a major factor in moving forward … It’s great to be able to see that my electric bills have gone down substantially even though my business is expanding.”
Carrette said the solar panels and wind turbine are both producing more electricity than expected. Many days, FlagShooter operates completely independent of the grid, producing 100% of its own electricity. He estimates this has saved the company 60-70% on their electricity bills.
“Renewable energy is no longer a novelty for people; today it actually makes good business sense,” he said. “The payback gets better every year.” He chose a hybrid wind and solar approach to get the benefits of both. To keep up with the company’s growing demand and because their first project was so successful, FlagShooter plans to install another set of solar panels within the next 5 years.