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Marshalltown business installs solar panels

Contributed photo Solar panels have been installed on the Farmers Insurance building on Main St.

In recent years, a larger focus has been put on being kind to our planet.

Many have called for limiting plastic use — from straws to single use grocery bags — as well as a stronger commitment to recycling. Wade Johnson, Marshalltown’s Farmers Insurance agent, is doing his part to reduce his footprint.

Johnson has had solar panels in place and running on the roof of his building at 307 West Main St. since March 26.

The transition to solar power has long been a dream of his.

“I’m just so excited about it; I can’t even tell you,” Johnson said.

The panels are providing for all of the energy needed for his business, along with powering three free car chargers in the building’s parking lot.

Johnson said the panels are saving him around $20,000 in energy bills for the year.

While he has been interested in solar energy for awhile, Johnson finally made it happen after visiting a home show in Des Moines. The solar panel company he met at the show did an energy audit to find his business’s energy consumption and then an engineer designed the system specifically for the building’s needs.

“Honestly, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine,” Johnson said. “I’ve just always been interested in that.”

He said his interest began in junior high, when he started doing research on solar energy. It is important to Johnson to reduce his carbon emissions, and it doesn’t hurt that it will also save him money.

Johnson is able to check an app on his phone to see how much energy he is producing and how he is limiting the business’s carbon emissions. According to him, he has already saved the equivalent of 3,000 pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere.

While Johnson has shown a big commitment to being environmentally friendly, there are many little changes people can make to help care for the earth.

People can switch out bottled waters for reusable water bottles and plastic grocery bags for reusable bags. Buying clothes secondhand or limiting shopping can also help reduce textile waste going into landfills.

Many people taking small steps can drastically help the health of this planet.

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Contact Anna Shearer at ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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