solar power Lynn Youngblood


The Examiner

It was a hot summer day and I had been climbing since 7am. My canteen hung over my shoulder, the sun was bright and the scent of pine filled the air.

The hike started as a hike through a forest path, but now we were climbing over large boulders and the upward trend became more difficult. We had about two hours of climbing before we reached our destination.

My hiking boots were new and I didn’t have time to break them. I could feel the blisters that had formed that morning and were already bleeding. Put the thought aside and move on.

Eventually we got to the top and I was standing on Crested Butte Mountain in Colorado. The view was the most amazing place my 9 year old eyes had ever seen. I was filled with awe, contentment, and pride. On this mountain I promised my first goal in life.

“One day I’ll live in a cabin in the woods.”

At the age of 30 I realized that I had done nothing to achieve this goal and for the next 10 years I looked for land to make my dream come true. And then it happened.

Like many, I had other goals in life. Visit Alaska: Check. Visit Redwood Forests: Check Out. Achieve a Masters Degree: Review. Visit at least one overseas country: check.

I am very happy to say that last week I marked another life goal: Reducing my carbon footprint by installing renewable energies: Check it out! Last week we installed solar panels in our house.

I got the impression that discounts and other incentives for homeowners to run solar ended a few years ago. Then I saw an ad that said discounts were being offered for certain postcodes in the Midwest. We met with a representative from a highly regarded company and the ball was rolling. It was so much easier than I could ever have guessed.

They went out of their way to match the funding to our needs, contact the electricity company, get city permits, and cover every other detail. The other thing I learned about solar today is that the technology has not only gotten cheaper but also more advanced. This company installs solar panels with microinverters on each module. If there is a cloud overhead and one panel is shaded, it may not work optimally, but all other panels will still work. Some companies install the older panels. So when a cloud covers one panel, everyone stops completely. Amazing technology!

The company has come up with a plan that our solar system will use to offset our energy consumption by 80 percent. This does not include saving the amount of electricity our array sends back onto the grid for use by the electricity company. We get credit for this electricity. I assumed that the energy saved by the solar offset combined with the electricity sent back to the grid would almost pay for the installation costs. I’ve just removed the carbon footprint of our entire home and ticked off one of my life goals. Check!

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach them at

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