Lordstown dairy farmer trying solar energy as way to bring down electrical costs

Staff report


Dairy farmer Garry Kibler has more than 60 fans in the barns on his 400-acre farm on Highland Avenue to keep the cows cool in the summer.

That creates high electric bills.

With the 480 solar panels now installed and generating electricity on one of his barns, he’s hoping his costs will drop.

The goal is for the new solar installation to provide more than half of the elecricity needed to run the farm and his house for the entire year, he said.

Kibler said he doesn’t know yet whether he will be recommending the idea to fellow farmers. It’ll depend on the results he gets.

“If it pays, I wouldn’t see why more shouldn’t do it,” he said Tuesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and news conference at the farm.

Kibler and sons Garry Kibler Jr. and Cory Kibler also attended the event, sponsored by Third Sun Solar of Athens, Ohio, the company that provided the array of solar panels and the system that converts the sun’s energy into usable electricity.

Michael Smucker, director of growth for Third Sun Solar, said solar arrays such as this “are making farms ready for future generations,” making farms greener and allowing farmers to “take control of energy costs.”

Michelle Greenfield, Third Sun CEO, said the electricity will start out being used to operate the fans, but when there is excess energy, it goes into the electrical grid and provides credits the farm can use later.

Third Solar says solar energy is becoming a better option because the costs to install it are coming down.

Third Solar has installed more than 800 projects for homeowners, businesses, institutions and government entities across 14 states in the Midwest since 2000.

The Kibler solar array is expected to last 30 to 50 years, Third Solar said.

Gary Fulkman, eastern regional manager for the Dairy Farmers of America, said Third Sun Solar is a preferred provider through DFA, which offers education to farmers about ways to make their farms more efficient.

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