Northern Wilds March 2019

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The North Shore’s full-fiber broadband network, providing phone & internet service throughout Cook County.


The CLE Presents The 21 st Annual Spring Home & Garden Show An example of a homeowner who has installed a photovoltaic (PV) solar array on their rooftop. | STOCK

APRIL 5, 6 & 7 2019

Friday: 4 pm - 9 pm Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm Sunday: 11 am - 4 pm

See The Latest In Home And Garden Products Exhibitors in 5 Venues PLUS Expanded Outdoor Display Areas Craft and Merchandise Tables Country Market (Fri, Sat) ● Attendance Prizes Special Cardinal Room & Scarnati Bldg. Draws FREE PARKING $3 ADMISSION 425 Northern Ave., Thunder Bay

A solar power surge in Duluth DULUTH— It might seem like a strange choice to install residential solar panels on your roof in Duluth, but Mimmu and Chad Salmela installed a 3-array 8-kilowatt (kW) system in November, 2018. When asked how the photovoltaic (PV) panels were working, Chad Salmela said, “We’re not getting much out of them yet because they’ve been covered in snow 90 percent of the days since we installed them. Let’s talk in August.” When August comes around, the year-round advantages to solar may start to show themselves for the Salmela family, even in a northern location like Minnesota. Solar energy is a booming industry in Minnesota and continues to grow at a rapid rate. In 2015, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, there were only 35 megawatts (MW) of electricity produced by solar energy in Minnesota. By the end of 2017, that number increased to 715 MW. Minnesota allows net metering, which means that electricity produced by residential solar panels over the amount needed by the homeowner may be sold back to the utility company. Another way to put it is that you are given credit for the solar energy you produce that you don’t need. You can use that credit later in the year when you may not produce as much solar power. This is a “grid-

tied” system instead of one that might be a stand-alone system that uses a battery to store extra electricity. “We get paid by Minnesota Power the same amount per watt as what we pay when buying from them,” said Mimmu.   Upfront costs for a solar array can be daunting, but the costs are coming down. According to a 2018 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the cost for panels in Minnesota has dropped from $9/watt to $4/ watt. The Salmelas said, “We also recognized that when more people participate in solar, the future price of solar goes down.” Alex Thelen, solar consultant with All Energy Solar, said, “I fear a lot of people think that solar is too expensive for them to afford, but the truth is if you are able to pay your electric bills there is no reason to think solar is out of reach.” Rebates and incentives are available to help lower initial installation costs. Rebate programs vary with each utility company. The Salmela family works with Minnesota Power that has a program called SolarSense. They offer rebates that are based on how much energy a resident’s PV system is expected to produce. The rebates are given out

Check live webcam for updates on ski trail conditions and snow totals • 800-346-2203 28 miles up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais


MARCH 2019