Gary, MN

Harvesting the sun for a new crop: electricity

On-farm solar, financed with PACE

Harvesting the Sun

 

Daryl and Carla Chisholm have been farming in Gary, MN since 1976. During that time they have harvested the sun to produce primarily corn and soybeans on their family farm. In 2019 they added another method to harvest solar energy by installing a 50 kW solar array on the roof of their shop building, financed with Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).

The Chisholms started looking into solar for their farm a couple of years ago. Conversations with their four sons who farm with them—Cameron, Matthew, Garrett and Brandon—led them to solidify the decision to add solar to the operation. “Our sons are the ones that convinced me,” says Daryl. “They are concerned about pollution, global warming, and protecting the earth.”

 

Our sons are the ones that convinced me. They are concerned about pollution, global warming, and protecting the earth... I say look to the future, and don’t be afraid of it. New things are coming and we need everyone doing what they can to help.

Daryl Chisholm, Farmer in Gary, MN

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program was essential to financing the solar installation. The Chisholm Farm is the first PACE project in Norman County, which required adoption of the program by Norman County Commissioners. “Because we were the first ones, they didn’t really know much about it," Daryl shared. "But by the end of the meeting the Commissioners were fired up about it”. PACE was adopted by Norman County and the Chisholm Farm solar project moved forward. Daryl said the process with the bank went well, too, without any issues at all.

The installation went smoothly completed by All Energy Solar a year ago in late 2019. “They did our project right after an installation in Florida in December," Daryl chuckled. "It was pretty cold here in Minnesota, so I kinda felt for them”. All Energy Solar monitors the system so that the Chisholms don’t have any additional maintenance to worry about.

“It was a pleasure working with the Chisholm family in adapting solar to their new farm building in Gary,” said Michael Thalhimer, Director of Business Development with All Energy Solar. “They wanted to supply a significant portion of their growing electric load with renewable energy, and made it clear this investment in the property was all about the future of the farm.”

The 50 kW solar installation covers about 20% of the energy use on the Chisholm Farm. Their heated shop and grain dryer are the largest consumers of energy on the farm. The project will pay for itself in 10 years according to Daryl. With the system’s life span of 25 years, the solar project will result in significant energy cost savings for the farm.

When asked to share any tips for other farm families that are considering solar, Daryl replied: "I say look to the future, and don’t be afraid of it. New things are coming and we need everyone doing what they can to help."

“This commitment and the resulting project highlight how well systems such as these can support our farming communities,” said Thalhimer with All Energy Solar. “With statewide solar net metering, tax benefits, and new financing options aimed at supporting farmers, solar access in rural MN is greater than ever.”

This commitment and the resulting project highlight how well systems such as these can support our farming communities.

Michael Thalhimer, Director of Business Development with All Energy Solar

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Daryl and Carla Chisholm met while attending North Dakota State University and they were married December 21, 1973, which means on the publishing date of this article they are celebrating their 47th anniversary—congrats!

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