Harrisville Couple Makes Own Solar Power, Pays No Utilities
by Timothy W. Scee II
Published June 5, 2010
HARRISVILLE, N.Y. — On
Feb 12, 2010, New York State launched the “Great
Appliance Swap Out” to reward its residents with
rebates for buying new, energy efficient appliances which
some say result in both lower utility bills and a
What if, however, there was no need to pay home utility
bills in the first place?
W. Tucker, Harrisville, said he and his wife, Carol E.
Tucker, have “never paid a power bill” since his
retirement from the United States Air Force in 1998.
“Why depend on a utility company when you can make your
own power and its free,” Mr. Tucker said.
Mr. Tucker bought $10,000 worth of raw materials needed to
build and design a solar energy system from Backwoods
Solar Electric Systems, Sandpoint, Idaho in 1998.
“In three to five years, it paid for itself,” the
former B-52 maintenance officer said.
The solar panels connect to a power converter which
changes the 24-volt DC power, made by solar energy, into
120 volt AC power for household use.
On an average day, Mr. Tucker said his solar panels
produce 4.8 kilowatts of energy, the equivalent of 600
watts per hour. He and his wife use about half of the
daily energy output.
“We make more power than we use,” he said.
The only maintenance required for the solar panels,
according to the Mr. Tucker, is the use of a roof rake in
the winter months for scraping off snow and an annual
Besides maintenance, Mr. Tucker said there seems to be no
drawbacks to solar powered home energy.
“I have seen no disadvantages to date,” Mr. Tucker
said. “We have never ran out of power the 12 years
we’ve lived here.”
Mr. Tucker, who is certified with the New York State
Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), now
independently builds home solar energy systems in his
“Seventy percent of what I do is camps and cottages,”
he said. “I discuss the customer’s power needs
with them and over design it by 20 percent.”
Tucker also noted he had done commercial solar work as a
subcontractor for Acts II Construction, Gouverneur, to
build two anti-collision lights for the Adirondack
Regional Airport in Saranac Lake.
With no electrical lines connected to the Tucker’s home,
there are also no water, cable or telephone lines.
Mr. Tucker said he and his wife use a wireless card to get
internet access and a cellular tower to communicate with
“the outside world”
“Yes, we get Newzjunky out here,” he said.
A 274- foot deep, spring fed well provides the Tucker
family with “more than enough” water.
“We have every luxury you have, we just don’t have to
pay for it,” Mr. Tucker said. “I’m living my
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