Cattle rancher goes solar; begins harvesting power

Bill Gibson installed 44 solar panels last fall. He enjoys saving money instead of paying high electric bills.

Photo by Raquel Royers

Bill Gibson installed 44 solar panels last fall. He enjoys saving money instead of paying high electric bills.

Photo with no caption

Photo by Raquel Royers

Cottonwood rancher, Bill Gibson, finally had enough with electric bills and decided to install and rely on solar panels to provide energy for his 1000 acre ranch.

The decision was made last fall after realizing he no longer wanted to pay high PG&E bills, he said.

“We are off the grid, but not entirely,” he noted.

While the Gibson’s receive most of their electricity from the watts received from the solar panels, they are still connected to a PG&E receiver and have it as a backup if the panels were to ever malfunction.

Looking at the electric box, Gibson pointed to a symbol of an arrow pointing backward, noting that it was receiving the electricity from the solar panels, which results in him not being charged a dime because he was using none of PG&E’s output.

“I tell my wife to turn it up,” he said with a laugh in reference to the air conditioner.

For Gibson no longer has to worry about running the air conditioner all day long on hot days, dreading seeing the bill in the mail. Prior to installing the panels he used to see a bill of around $250 every month, which didn’t include the extremely hot months or holidays, when they have lots of company, he said.

Many may try to figure out how many years it will take to see their money being paid off but if you have the money available that’s enough incentive, Gibson said. He sees it paying off every time he doesn’t have to open a couple hundred dollar bill.

It has especially paid off for Gibson and his family because by installing the unit himself, he saved over half of the money he would have paid for someone else to do it, he said. Gibson ordered the solar products off the internet and bought the other material locally, resulting in around $18,000 for a 44 solar panel unit.

“It’s not for everybody but if you have the capability and extra money to do it, I would say go for it. It’s great,” Gibson said. “Just think about it, Shasta County, my word, we have so much sun here.”

He was receiving bids around the $50,000 mark from solar panel carpenters, when eventually after enough researching on the internet and some help from friends he decided to do it on his own. Gibson is also a retired contractor, noting that made it easier for him.

“Anyone who can put together Christmas gifts for their kids can put this together,” Gibson said.

Gibson can track the solar panels’ output, how much energy he is saving and the amount of usage through a wireless device on the panels, called a micro inverter that sends the information to the internet.

Plus, since installing the solar panels, he received a 30 percent rebate on his taxes and money from PG&E, he said.

“It’s the wave of the future,” Gibson said.

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