Detroit Lakes Regional Office Manager Jim Ziegler likes sunny days — especially now after he had a large solar array installed at his home. Sixty-eight panels organized in three arrays can produce about 137 kW hours a day on a bright summer day. An average home in Minnesota consumes about 67 kWh a day.
The solar array is not the only alternative energy system on the Ziegler property. It joins with a ground-source heat pump system that heats and cools the home and a couple of other buildings. And on top of all that, Ziegler says “I’m excited by the fact I’m generating electricity that’s used in my plug-in hybrid car.”
The array is connected to the local electric grid. Ziegler said during the day the array is sending electricity to the grid and at night the meter starts going the other way as power comes off the grid to his house.
“The system will generate credits during the summer months and many of those will get used up during the winter,” Ziegler says, adding that he expects a substantial net gain each year, meaning his system will generate more energy than his property consumes.
The system provides a wide variety of information about the energy being produced, and also what that can mean in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, over a period of 15 days recently the system produced the equivalent of saving 897 kg of CO2 emissions, or planting 49 trees.