Media Archive

Solar power, generators provide alternative energy

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 37, September 10, 2003

By Ben Bragdon
Staff Writer

For many, Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer, the time when pools begin to close, kids head back to school, and planning begins for the long Maine winter that lies just around the comer.

Preparing for the cold months ahead means making sure that your home is protected from the harsh elements. After last winter's arctic-like temperatures wreaked havoc with water pipes all over Piscataquis County, many homeowners began to think about having a back-up plan to keep themselves warm and out of the dark in the case of a power outage. Now, with winter soon to be breathing down our necks, they are hurrying to have a new generator installed.

Everybody wants everything done before winter," says Kent Ladd of Maine Generator & Solar Power in Milo. "Homeowners start thinking about generators at this time of the year, and they want them hooked up before the snow flies."

And by no means are homeowners the only people reaching out for an alternative source of power like generators and solar panels, especially in the face of rising electricity prices, not to mention the large-scale blackout that recently affected 50 million North Americans. Ladd says his customers run "anywhere from homeowners to sporting camps to sawmills, sewer treatment plants, municipalities, police stations, nursing homes. Anything that needs power."

Ladd, who has run Maine Generator with his wife Karen since 1995, and who has 23 years' of experience working with power generation systems, says generators, which range in size from small portable units to large ones that can sustain a large commercial operation, fulfill a number of customer needs, varying completely based on the individual.

For average homeowners, a generator can take the worry away while the family is gone on its winter vacation, ensuring that power is kept constant in case of an outage or faulty wire. For senior citizens who no longer want to deal with firewood, a generator can also solve that problem as well as other power-related worries.

"Peace of mind is worth a lot," Ladd says.

For hunting camps, generators can be the only source of power to keep the building warm, the lights on, and any hunting trophies refrigerated.

"A lot of those camps run their generators 24 hours a day through November," Ladd says.

As property values rise throughout the state, Ladd says many people are selling their first homes for a profit and making their part-time camps into year-round homes. A popular electricity option at these remote
camps is becoming solar power, which comes with a wide range of choices as well.

"You can put up a couple of panels and run a camper," Ladd says, "or you can put a few up and run a whole household."

People building new camps and houses in the many out-of-the-way spots in northern Maine are finding that generators are a more costeffective power source than expensive off-the-road utility services. Ladd says that as technology improves both in the generators and solar systems as well as the appliances they run, alternative electricity will only grow in popularity.

"The more computerized and eletronic the world gets, the more demand there is for electricity and the more appealling a generator looks," he says.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.