Solar power becoming more popular

SIDNEY — Solar power systems are becoming more popular at residential and business properties in Shelby County.

Several reasons are driving the increased use of solar energy, according to Brian Steinkamp, director of strategy and development at Electro Green Energy Solutions (EGES), of Sidney.

“First, unlike lumber, costs for solar materials have dropped dramatically during the past few years. Second, productivity and efficiencies for solar materials have also improved as costs have dropped. For example, solar modules sold today generate 15 to 20% more energy compared to solar panels sold two years ago and are 20 to 25% cheaper,” he said.

EGES, a division of Electro Controls, is a solar renewable energy provider that works with clients to optimize a combination of renewable energy, energy efficient technology, and federal, state, and local incentive programs to significantly reduce the customer’s operating expense and energy consumption, and maximize the customer’s return on investment. EGES works within the commercial, industrial, agriculture, education, healthcare and municipality markets.

Steinkamp gave several examples of new solar energy systems recently installed in the local area.

Hopyard 29, a 7-acre hop farm east of Sidney near Pasco, which grows and processes premium hops used to make beer, had a roof-mounted solar power generation system installed on its property. The renewal energy system provides the electricity used to process and preserve hops that are sold to microbreweries and distilleries throughout the Midwest.

Owner Chris Meyer, said Hopyard 29 uses solar power in combination with Pioneer Electric’s power for their harvesting needs as a way to save money.

“We are out of the DP&L main system, so we are part of the Pioneer’s rural electrical co-op,” said Meyer. “So what happens is, 11 months out of the year, the solar panels are doing their job. They are back feeding into the electrical grid at Pioneer and earning us credits. So, for instance, for the month of July, even though we have a big commercial cooler going out there, set to 38 degrees with product in there, my electric bill for the month of July was still a negative $11.”

Steinkamp said Seitz Poultry also installed a roof-mounted solar array to provide electricity to offset the energy consumed by ventilation systems and related equipment in poultry barns. And Tim Geise, retired president of Dickman Electric Supply/Electro Controls, installed a ground-mounted solar array over the summer, which Steinkamp said offsets 95% of the energy used for his business and personal residence.

Geise said he is very pleased with the results so far since the July installation. He does not store power with batteries, so he switches back to electric power when the sun goes down.

“The solar panels and inverters I had installed, somewhere in July, are for personal use. It is working out well. We are seeing the benefits from it. I’ll say that the first three months — half of July, August and into September — I’m very, very pleased with what is happening,” Geise said about the power being produced for his 20-acre property. “You’ve got to analyze your utility bills and usage before you do it. And, you can size it to whether you want to generate half or you can generate the whole thing, if you want to.”

As costs for solar materials have declined and productivity has improved, Steinkamp said the “economics” for on-site power generation quickly become more attractive.

“In addition, incentives to encourage individuals and businesses to install solar systems are significant and are currently scheduled to decline during the next three years,” he said. “Currently, the federal government offers a 26% federal investment tax credit — not a deduction — to encourage taxpayers to install solar systems. For solar systems installed in 2020, owners receive a federal tax credit equal to 26% of the total eligible costs associated with both residential and commercial solar systems. The rate for the federal investment tax credit drops to 22% next year, and then drops further to 10% in 2022, and beyond for commercial solar systems. The federal tax credit rate for residential solar systems also drops to 22% next year, and is eliminated entirely in 2022 and beyond.”

“The combination of the federal investment tax credit, additional financial incentives applicable for businesses and commercial systems, the reduction in costs, and increased productivity have created an opportunity to add on-site solar power solutions cost effectively,” Steinkamp continued. “The combination of the avoided utility expense and incentives also creates a meaningful investment opportunity for businesses and homeowners. The return on investment created by the solar system and increased value in the real estate often creates meaningful rates of return for most owners.”

He said a great source for additional information on commercial federal investment tax credit incentives from the US Department of Energy can be found at:

ECGE, “often surprises commercial businesses when an on-site solar system creates internal rates of return in excess of 12% over the 25 year useful life of the system and takes less than five to six years for owners to recoup their original investment,” Steinkamp said. “Residential systems offer lower rates of return and include longer paybacks, approximately 10 years, primarily because residential systems do not share the same incentives and the tax benefit associated with depreciation that applies to assets used in a commercial business.”

Both the customers and contractors admitted there is an investment up front, but in the long run it pays for its self.

“Your payback is very very good, I think. As long as the sun keeps shinning, I should be very good,” Geise said, half joking. “It is an investment.”

Electrical contractors are able to obtain renewable energy products locally. Steinkamp said Dickman Electric Supply, EGES’s parent company, carries a full line of material needed to construct a solar system and will work with interested contractors to learn to install solar systems.

“Declining costs, increasing productivity and valuable incentives from the federal government will undoubtedly influence additional businesses and residential customers to add solar systems during the next few years. The new ‘normal’ includes on-site solar in addition to social distancing,” Steinkamp said.

For general information on renewable energy, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at .

EGES, located at 1991 St. Marys Ave., Sidney, can be reached at 317-654-8582 or by emailing Nick Koon, vice president of EGES, at power becoming more popular

Pacers Sports & Entertainment Partnership Brings Solar Power to the St. Vincent Center

INDIANAPOLIS – Pacers Sports & Entertainment today announced it has entered into a partnership with Electro Green Energy Solutions (EGES) ( and iSolar Brokers (, to install roof-top solar power generation and energy storage at the St. Vincent Center this summer. This project includes an off-grid, solar plus energy storage micro-grid solution, installed by Jefferson Electric, to delivery electricity consumed on the 4th floor of the St. Vincent Center.  

“We are proud of our continued efforts to make our facilities as clean and green as possible,” said PS&E President & COO Rick Fuson. “This project aligns perfectly with our overall mission, and we are grateful to EGES and I-Solar Brokers for their partnership.”

“It has been a pleasure developing this project over the past several months and working with Pacers Sports & Entertainment,” said Nick Koon, vice president of EGES. “PS&E is part of a growing list of professional sports venues putting an emphasis on renewable energy and solar solutions recognizing it’s an essential part of the future.” 

“This project will also be an opportunity to stimulate awareness and interest in renewable energy,” Bobby Starks-Gera, CEO iSolar Brokers, said.

The solar and energy storage system at SVC is the latest sustainability initiative PS&E has undertaken, a continual focus for the company since 2016. Other efforts include converting non-recyclable waste to energy; numerous recycling measures including cardboard, cans, glass and plastic bottles, document shredding; and staging zero-waste events. 

The Pacers and Indiana Fever also are involved in Threes for Trees, planting a tree for every three-pointer made during their seasons.

Soaking up the sun: Local dental office goes solar

Solar panel reflection on roof

A local dentist’s investment in solar energy means the power of the sun will help provide the electricity powering everything from the office lights to the equipment used for dental procedures.

White River Dental employees, as well as Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and three officials from Electro Green Energy Solutions, an Indianapolis-based green energy project development firm, recently gathered in the dentist office training room to hear details about office’s new ambitious investment — 81 solar panels installed on the building’s roof.

Nick Koon, vice president of Electro Green Energy Solutions, who led the presentation, showed some aerial footage of White River Dental’s solar panels on a projector screen. He then opened an internet browser and signed into a “digital kiosk,” which is a monitoring and data analytics platform that tracks the panels’ output.

In a little under a month, according to the digital kiosk, the energy generated by the solar panels at White River Dental had saved 1.5 trees and 1.3 barrels of oil. The solar panels are expected to offset approximately 26 percent of the building’s annual energy use, said Dr. Aaron Strickland, dentist and owner of White River Dental, on Columbus’ west side.

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“There’s multiple reasons why we wanted to do this,” Strickland said. “(There are) huge benefits of being a solar panel owner and operator as far as not only helping the environment, but also saving on consumption of energy and doing what we can do to give back to our community. It was an investment that I think is going to be a 10-fold win in multiple different ways. We’re one of the only offices in Columbus and one of the only dental offices in the state of Indiana that has solar panels at this point, and we’re hoping this will set a trend to have other healthcare providers try to change the way we do business and help the environment as well.”

The solar panels, which are not visible unless you are on the roof, cover a 90-foot-by-60-foot portion of the roof’s western side, Koon said. Each panel weighs 51.8 pounds and is 79.3 inches long, 39.4 inches wide and 1.38 inches thick.

The panels sit in casings that are approximately 6 inches above the roof. They all face south to maximize the amount of sunlight they can receive throughout the day, Koon said. The panels were manufactured by Hanwha Q CELLS Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Hanwha Group, a South Korea-based conglomerate.

The solar panels absorb sunlight to generate electricity. The panels, however, only generate direct current, or DC energy, which is not the form of energy that many appliances use.

A device called an inverter, which also was installed on White River Dental’s roof, then converts the DC energy into alternating current, or AC power, which is the type of power the building runs on.

The panels will generate power, albeit less power, on cloudy days and even with up to four inches of snow on them, said Jerry Strickland, co-director of marketing at White River Dental and father of Dr. Aaron Strickland.

The suction tubes that the dentist uses to suck out saliva from a patient’s mouth and the air compressor for the air drills used for fillings and other procedures are among the equipment that use up the most electricity at the dental office, Jerry Strickland said.

When White River Dental produces more energy than it uses, Duke Energy will issue a credit to the dental office at the same rate that it charges customers to use electricity, Koon said. The panels will continue generating power when the dental office is closed on Sundays.

“When you over-produce, you push (the energy) back to the grid,” Koon said. “With Duke (Energy), they give you a dollar-per-dollar credit for every kilowatt you over-produce.”

After the system was installed at White River Dental, Duke Energy put in a two-way meter to allow White River Dental to send excess energy back to the power grid, said Brian Steinkamp, director of strategy and development at Electro Green Energy Solutions.

“Before the (solar panel) system was here, the meter only spun one way,” Steinkamp said. “After it’s in, they change out the meter so that on Sunday, when (White River Dental) is generating more electricity than they use, the meter actually spins the other way to keep track of the credits we’re sending back to the grid.”

Jerry Strickland said White River Dental spent “in the ballpark of $100,000” to install the solar panels. The warranty from the manufacturer says the panels will produce 80 percent of their original output 20 years after going online, said Koon, who estimates that solar panels will pay for themselves in approximately four to five years.

Even though White River Dental is one of the first medical offices in the Columbus area to install solar panels at its facility, it reflects a growing trend in Indiana and across the country, according to solar power industry analysts. An increasing number of businesses are investing in solar power as the price of the solar panels has decreased and the cost of electricity has increased, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association, an industry trade group.

Last year, non-residential solar installations in Indiana roughly doubled from just over 20 megawatts in capacity installed in 2017 to just under 40 megawatts in 2018, according to the association.

Though Indiana ranks 24 out of 50 states in terms of installed solar power capacity, the Hoosier State has been home to some major solar power projects in recent years, including a 75-acre solar farm with 76,000 solar panels at Indianapolis International Airport, which as of 2014 was the largest airport solar farm in the world.

“The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70 percent over the last decade, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide,” according to the association. “Prices as of Q4 2018 are at their lowest levels in history across all market segments. An average-sized residential system has dropped from a pre-incentive price of $40,000 in 2010 to roughly $18,000 today.”

Small businesses in Columbus could be especially well-positioned to take advantage of federal tax subsidies and grants that could eliminate up to 55 percent of the costs of installing a solar panel system, Steinkamp said.

The Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides small businesses up to 25 percent of the money needed to purchase, install and construct solar power systems, with a maximum award of $500,000 for renewable energy systems, according to the USDA’s website. The grant is only available to companies in rural areas.

Columbus is considered a rural area because its population was under 50,000 people during the previous U.S. census in 2010, Steinkamp said.

To qualify for the grant, a company must be considered a “small business” by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s size standards. The standards vary be industry and also take into consideration the number of employees and the company’s revenue.

Additionally, the federal solar tax credit allows certain companies and individuals to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal taxes.

“As the cost of solar have come down dramatically in the last five years, and the price of electricity keeps going up … the 30 percent incentive can really take you over the top and you can get some pretty healthy rates of return over a 25-year life of a system,” Steinkamp said.

“Once Columbus breaks 50,000 (in population), and once the federal tax credit drops off in 2022, a lot of those incentives go away,” he added.

White River Dental has applied for a REAP Grant, but is still awaiting a response from the USDA, Electro Green Energy Solutions officials said.

Lienhoop, who attended the demonstration of the solar panels and took a tour of the dental office, called White River Dental’s investment in solar power a “tremendous commitment to the community.”

“It’s a tremendous commitment to the community and to — I don’t know if you would call it the green movement — but just the whole notion of having a more environmentally-friendly place to do business,” Lienhoop said. “I think that’s always much appreciated. In a community like this, we’re always looking for people to lead. We’re looking for someone to take that step out and say, ‘Here, look at what we did,’ and if we can get some copycats, I’m sure Dr. Strickland will appreciate that, and I certainly will, too.”

Solar panels installed at Bish Nature Center

GREENVILLE — The Darke County Parks is excited to announce that they will be going solar.

Last year, staff members met with representatives from Electro Green Energy Solutions (GES), a green energy company located out of Sidney, Ohio, to talk about the possibility of getting solar power implemented at the Bish Discovery Center. EGES was thrilled to potentially be part of this project, and diligently worked with their local electrical partner and Indianapolis-based engineering firm to develop a cost-effective solution for the Center.

While EGES went to work on finding a strategy to make the project happen, parks staff began submitting grant applications in order to acquire the funds needed. Electro Green Energy Solutions (EGES) has partnered with Garber Electrical Contractors Inc., who will be donating 100 percent of the installation. Sims Durkin Associates Engineering Company, and Dickman Supply brought this project to life.

The solar panels that will be installed on the roof of the Bish Discovery Center and will offset over 90 percent of the center’s current annual energy consumption (5.46kW) and because of the partnerships the Bish Discovery Center will have a payback of under five years. Staff has plans for a future educational solar display inside the center, as well as various programs focusing on solar energy. Additionally, the Darke County Parks hopes for a collaborative educational partnership with Edison Community College sometime in the future.

The Darke County Park District is excited to be a renewable energy leader in the community. This project was made possible with partial funding granted by the Harry D. Stephens Memorial Fund.

HSI Acquires Electro Green Energy Solutions

HSI, Solar, LLC, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Electro Green Energy Solutions (EGES) and the addition of Nick Koon and Brian Steinkamp to HSI’s executive team effective October 14, 2021. Following the acquisition, Electro Green Energy Solutions will remain an operating division of HSI Solar.

Burnie Gaff, CEO of HSI Solar stated: “We are excited to collaborate with Dickman Supply and maintain business as usual for EGES related activities. We look forward to having Nick Koon and Brian Steinkamp join the HSI team.”

Nick Koon will serve as President and Brian Steinkamp as the Vice President and CLO for HSI Solar.

In addition to the acquisition, HSI Solar, Dickman Supply and Electro Controls, Inc. have also agreed to a strategic supply relationship that enables the parties to continue the vertically integrated project development and delivery model that EGES first created as an operating division of Electro Controls, Inc.

Chris Geise, CEO and Co-Owner of Dickman Supply & Electro Controls welcomes the collaborative opportunity to cultivate the business model, development pipeline, and strategic relationships EGES created during the past three years. Geise also expressed enthusiasm to serve as a strategic supplier for all of HSI’s projects.

For more information, contact

About HSI Solar
HSI Solar is a turn-key developer and delivery company for renewable energy solutions serving relationship-based accounts around the globe.

About Electro Green Energy Solutions (EGES)
EGES is a service company that identifies and evaluates energy conservation measures (ECM’s) that reduce a customer’s recurring electrical consumption and supplement the electricity purchased from the grid with on-site renewable power generation. 

About Dickman Supply
Dickman Supply has more than 65 years of operational experience distributing and promoting electrical components and industrial supplies. 

About Electro Controls
Electro Control is an ISO 9001 and UL registered company that manufactures custom industrial and commercial control panels and wire harnesses for a wide range of industries across North America. Elecro Controls offers complete design and engineering, SCADA development and integration, contract assembly and field services.