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Marshalltown resident sold on solar power benefits

‘We have a lot of sunny days in Iowa’

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Sally Wilson of Marshalltown points to two of the several solar panels at her home in the 200 block of North Fourth St. On Saturday Wilson was hosting an open house as part of National Solar Tour.

A steady rain was falling shortly before the 1 p.m kick-off time Saturday for an open house at Sally Wilson’s home in Marshalltown.

“This is not ideal weather for an open house on solar power,” Wilson said with a smile. “I do not know if any one will come the way the weather is.”

While Saturday afternoon’s deep-gray clouds and steady rain stuck around for awhile, Wilson was eager to show off her solar-powered home to one or 1,000.

And why not?

After her system was installed by a Minnesota-based firm in April, Wilson said she been saving nearly $70 a month on electricity charges at her cozy home in the 200 block of North Fourth Street. The house is occupied by her and her daughter.

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
A solar power meter on Sally Wilson’s home in the 200 block of North Fourth St.

Wilson, an unapologetic and strong supporter of environmental issues for a number of years, decided to invest in a solar system after the July 2018 tornado seriously damaged her roof.

“A solid, well-constructed roof is key to having solar panels installed,” she said. “Since my insurance company paid a claim to replace my roof, I decided it was the time to install solar.”

Wilson did due diligence and found All Energy Solar Co. of St. Paul, Minn.

“They do a lot of work in Iowa,” Wilson said. “I have seen their signs in Marshalltown. The company installers and project manager were extremely helpful.”

In April, the company installed two panels facing south on her new roof, and several near the back of the house all in one week.

The installation was inspected and approved by city of Marshalltown and Alliant Energy inspectors.

Wilson said the complete solar system cost $19,000.

She made a down-payment to All Energy Solar and is paying $500 a month.

Alliant Energy, her electric and gas utility energy provider, currently offers a solar power rebate to eligible customers.

“I have been telling my friends to do solar now, before Alliant Energy solar power rebates expire,” she said. “It makes it tremendously worthwhile. Twenty-five years from now, you will be laughing up your sleeve paying nothing for electricity.”

Wilson, a biology professor with Iowa Valley Community College District, said solar power is not for everyone, especially if they own a property with a lot of shade trees.

However, the tornado took out hundreds of shade trees.

“It is going to take, 10, 20 or 30 years for those trees to grow up again,” she said. “One could be saving a lot of money on energy over that time … and it is so much better for the planet.”

For more information, contact rsvp, or membership@ases.org.