Getting off the Sidelines

“My wife Julie and I feel strongly about taking care of our environment. We believe climate change
will be a significant issue for future generations. We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines any
longer. We recycle more than we discard, we compost, we drive a plug-in electric hybrid car, and we
have photovoltaic solar panels that produce close to 100 percent of our annual electrical use.

“As an engineer who spent the first half of his career working on alternative energy projects for
Northern States Power, I have always had an interest in energy alternatives. Installing solar panels
was always something I thought we should do. But there was always an excuse: The technology was
not ready, it costs too much, or we did not have enough disposable income. Then, our neighbors
installed photovoltaic panels on their roof with no tax or financial incentives. I asked them why, and
they said they felt this was just something they had do to. At that point, Julie and I realized it was
something we also had to do for our kids, grandkids, and future generations.
Solar panels on the Weisbecker home. An additional nine panels were installed on the roof in the front yard as well as four on the garage. The 26 panels cover nearly 100 percent of the couple’s energy usage. The Weisbeckers worked with All Energy Solar.
“Today, our neighborhood is a mix of empty nesters and young couples. While there is a growing interest in solar panels, folks with no kids say they are not sure how much longer they will be staying in their house and wonder if they should invest in them. Young couples have the ever-increasing costs of raising a family. Good incentives and financing options are now available for installing solar. And less costly alternative energy programs, like receiving energy from wind or solar farms as a choice on the utility bill, or investing in community solar, now make it a bit easier for many to access alternative energy.”
—As told to The Butterfly Effect
by Tom Weisbecker, a homeowner in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.
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