Solar Powers Iowa Farm, Highlights Potential for Clean Energy

ELPC recently highlighted a successful REAP solar project on a September 2013 solar tour through northeast Iowa.  Chuck Bushman installed solar panels on his farm, which began operating early in 2013.

The solar array has 360 panels, generating 86 kw total on the roof of his poultry barn. Solar reduced the farm’s utility bills from an average of $1,700 per month to $170 per month – a 90% reduction.

Bushman’s organic farm includes approximately 10,000 laying hens, 75 milking cows, and 750 acres of farmland. His Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) installed two smart meters – one for the poultry barn and one for the rest of the farm’s operations and Chuck’s home.  The chicken barn uses the most electricity because the temperature has to stay at 45 degrees year round and because ventilation fans operate 24 hours/day.

Some days, Bushman’s solar panels generate more electricity than he needs; he is able to ‘bank’ the extra electricity on the grid and then draw down from the ‘bank’ on days when he needs more electricity than he can generate.

During the solar tour, neighboring farmers and legislators came and saw the successes of the project firsthand. The Bushman farm solar project highlights the potential that REAP has for bringing clean energy to rural Iowa.