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Solar energy could be option worth reviewing for Indiana farms

Solar energy could be option worth reviewing for Indiana farms
Purdue study says farmers are more likely to see cost savings than regular homeowner.

The February issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer began a new series on possible alternative sources of energy and managing natural resources in Indiana agriculture.

Related: Federal Funding Goes to Rural Solar, Renewable Energy Projects

The farmer and farm family featured was Tom Weaver, Rochester. He installed a solar array last year, and also uses a solar array to power an irrigation system. The two solar arrays are separate.

Power irrigation rig: Tom Weaver, Rochester, installed this solar array to power an irrigation rig on his farm.

You can see the article by visiting the February issue in the archives on this Website. Go to the home page, go down the left side until you find several live links highlighted in blue. Click on 'Magazines Online' and then click on the February 2015 issue. The story about solar power and Tom Weaver's use of it is on page 4.

Wally Tyner, a Purdue University ag economics professor, and Lois Ackerman, also of Ag Econ, plus graduate student Jinho Jung have studied the feasibility of solar energy from several angles, including how taxes and credits affect the cost. There are solar panels mounted on the roof of Knoy Hall at Purdue.

The trio concluded that the probability of saving money by using solar energy rather than standard grid electricity is 92% for Indiana farms and businesses, but only about 50% for homes.

The major difference, Tyner says, is that farms and businesses can deduct their investment in setting up solar arrays and the rest of the system as depreciation. Homeowners have no mechanism to gain that type of cost recovery. If homeowners could depreciate the cost of installing solar energy systems, Tyner says their chances of saving with solar energy would also rise to about 90%.

"Solar is a clear economical choice for farm businesses," Tyner says. "The tax advantage from depreciation makes a huge difference in the overall economics."

More people are looking at solar energy because it is an emission-free and exhaustible source or renewable energy, the trio of ag economists note.

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