Stuart – Grand Rapids, Minnesota


Stuart – Grand Rapids, MN

2021 Iron Range Co-op

System Size: 27.3 kW


I think that if more farmers knew about programs like REAP, they will learn that they can go solar, too.


Tell me about your farm. What do you grow? How long have you owned it?

I’ve had the farm for over 40 years now and I started out growing Strawberries. When the University of Minnesota released a new Blueberry variety, so I started growing those and before long, I started growing a new Apple variety, so I’ve certainly got my hands full!

Why did you decide to go solar?

10 Years ago, I was at a farmers conference and another grower gave a presentation about solar. He talked about how solar really made sense for his farm and how he felt that it really made a difference. It was then that I realized that I too, could go solar, and I too could make a difference. Eventually I heard about the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and learned that the incentives available through the program could help me save a tremendous amount of money on the solar system. I applied for the program and fortunately, I was awarded with a grant.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) paid for 25% of your costs for your solar. How did that influence your decision on whether or not to move forward?

Winning the grant played a role in my ability to go solar, absolutely. I think I still would have liked to pursue it but the assistance surely helped. Knowing that I had that cushion certainly made me feel more comfortable about the investment.

Have your solar panels changed anything about the farm’s operations? Tell me about your electric bill and the first time you saw it after going solar?

I get a lot of questions about them! Other than that, the main thing that has changed is that I see a negative number on my electric bill. The system doesn’t require any upkeep so it hasn’t really changed anything other than the savings and where our energy comes from.

Did you have any concerns about going solar?

We allow folks to pick their own fruit so there are always people wandering around the farm. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but we put fencing around the system, so now people can go look at it and I don’t have to worry about it. Folks like to ask questions about the panels – I think that’s a good thing.

Do you have any information on how much electricity your system has produced and how much money you’ve saved?

We’ve been getting a check back every month of about $300!

How was your experience going solar through the Iron Range Solar Co-op?

The co-op really gave me confidence. Solar United Neighbors did the research on all the different companies, I was grateful for that.

What advice would you give to other farmers who are considering going solar?

Go ahead and go for it! There are great rebates and incentives available that can really help reduce the cost. I’m looking forward to getting an EV. I think that if more farmers knew about programs like REAP, they will learn that they can go solar, too.