Tour of Solar Buildings this Saturday

Tour of Solar Buildings this Saturday


What is it like to produce your own electricity from the wind and the sun? To live with an independent energy system? Do you need to change your lifestyle? Will the system change the appearance of your home, or can it be blended into the design of your building? What does it cost? How much upkeep is needed? These and other questions will be answered during the National Tour of Solar Buildings.

On Saturday, October 5, 2002, buildings across the nation will be opened to interested visitors. The tour provides an opportunity to see first hand energy systems that won’t run out of power, can’t have services cut off or withheld, that continue to function when neighbors lose power, and safeguard human health and protect the environment.

For the third consecutive year, Ogle County residents will open their homes and buildings to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the annual tour. Visit one or all of them on your own schedule. Owners will be available for the entire four hours to show their systems and answer questions.

Small wind generators such as those shown on the tour can generate electricity efficiently in any area of Illinois. All that is needed is a tower tall enough to avoid turbulence from surrounding buildings and trees. State rebates of up to 50 percent of the costs are available for wind systems of 10 kilowatts or greater.

Photovoltaic (solar electric) systems are more costly than wind but are eligible for state rebates of 60 percent of the cost with a maximum of $5,000. Full sunlight from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. is necessary to justify using solar electricity. A roof that accommodates a 2.5 kilowatt system could offset the annual pollution released by driving the family car for a year.

Solar available roof space points out the substantial potential of existing roofs to serve as peak power sources. One estimate indicates that roof space available in Cook County alone is enough to meet all of the electrical needs of Illinois. Electrical demand soars in summer exactly when solar cells can produce their maximum electrical output.

The use of solar electricity has shifted from nearly all non-grid uses four years ago to nearly 60 percent grid-connected systems, an important new trend. Homeowners can generate a portion of their electricity and still rely on the convenience of Commonwealth Edison’s delivery service.

We hope you will take advantage of this interesting and informative event to see for yourself how solar energy works for real people in real places. Sites on the tour include:

l Bob and Sonia Vogl, 1230 E. Honey Creek Rd., Oregon, (732-7332): Grid connected and stand-alone photovoltaic installations.

l Tom Snodgrass, 6618 W. Apple Rd., Mt. Morris, (734-4307): Earth tube.

l David Merrill, 139 Perene, Byron, (234-2530): Hybrid photovoltaic and wind power system.

l Jim Koehlert, 7834 Hoosier Rd., Ashton, (456-3411): 1.8 kilowatt photovoltaic system and 1.0 kilowatt wind generator.

The national sponsor of the tour is the American Solar Energy Association. The Illinois sponsors are the Illinois Renewable Energy Association and the Illinois Solar Energy Association.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!