Solar savings are a winner all around

The Examiner

It was a hot summer day and I had been climbing upward since 7 a.m. My canteen was hanging over my shoulder, the sun was bright, and the scent of pine filled the air.

The trek began as hiking through a woodland trail, but now we were climbing over large boulders, and the upward momentum was getting more difficult. We still had about two more hours of climbing before we reached our goal.

Lynn Youngblood

My hiking boots were new and I didn’t have time to break them in. I could feel the blisters that had formed in the morning, already bleeding. Push the thought aside and keep going.

Finally, we reached the summit and I stood at the top of Crested Butte Mountain in Colorado. The vista was the most amazing site my 9-year-old eyes had ever witnessed. I was filled with awe, satisfaction, and pride. It was then, atop that mountain, that I pledged my first lifetime goal.

“Someday I will live in a cabin in the woods.”

The installation of solar panels.

At the age of 30, I realized I hadn’t done anything to make that goal come true, and for the next 10 years I searched for land to build my dream. And then it happened.

Like many, I have had other lifetime goals. Visit Alaska: Check. Visit redwood forests: Check. Attain a master’s degree: Check. Visit at least one country overseas: Check.

I am very happy to say that last week I marked off another lifetime goal: Reducing my carbon footprint by installing renewable energy: Check! Last week, we installed solar panels to our home.

I was under the impression that rebates and other incentives for homeowners to go solar had ended several years ago. Then I saw an advertisement stating that rebates were being offered for designated ZIP Codes in the Midwest. We met with a representative with a highly reputable company and the ball got rolling. It was so much easier than I ever could have guessed.

They did all of the heavy lifting, aligning financing with our needs, contacting the electric company, gaining city permits, and covering every other detail. The other thing that I learned about solar today is that the technology has not only gotten less expensive, but it is also more advanced. This company installs solar panels that have microinverters on each panel. So, if a cloud is overhead and one panel is shaded, it may not be working optimally, but all of the other panels continue working. Some companies install the older panels, so if a cloud covers one panel, they all stop entirely. Amazing technology!

The company designed a plan under which our solar array will offset our energy use by 80 percent. This does not include the savings of the amount of electricity that our array is sending back to the grid for use by the electric company. We get credit for that electricity. I figured the energy saved by the solar offset, combined with the electricity sent back to the grid, would almost pay for the installation costs. I’ve just about removed our entire home’s carbon footprint and checked off one of my lifetime goals. Double-check!

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach her at