Amish plug into so­lar, wind power

The Covington News - - Religion -

GRA­BILL, Ind. — North­east­ern In­di­ana’s large Amish com­mu­nity is start­ing to em­brace wind and so­lar en­ergy to power their homes’ lights, re­frig­er­a­tors and other equip­ment.

Al­though many Amish re­jected high-volt­age elec­tric­ity in the early 1920s be­cause of the power lines that would have con­nected their peo­ple to the out­side world, lim­ited use of site-gen­er­ated, low-volt­age elec­tric­ity is ac­cept­able to many Amish.

The lat­est Amish res­i­dent hop­ing to tap into nat­u­ral en­ergy sources is 63-year-old Vic­tor Wa­gler. He’s seek­ing per­mis­sion from Allen County of­fi­cials to erect a $15,000 steel tower that will stand 87 feet and be topped with a wind-driven, elec­tric­ity-pro­duc­ing tur­bine.

“With the cost of fuel, it should pay for it­self in three years,” Wa­gler told The News-Sen­tinel of Fort Wayne for a story pub­lished Satur­day.

Along with the gen­er­a­tor and a so­lar panel, it would power the lights in his home and barn near Gra­bill, about 10 miles north­east of Fort Wayne, along with the re­frig­er­a­tor and freezer.

Wa­gler hopes a zon­ing hear­ing of­fi­cer ap­proves his wind tur­bine dur­ing a meet­ing Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to pa­pers filed with the county, the pro­posed tur­bine would gen­er­ate about 538 kilo­watts of elec­tric­ity per month at a wind speed of 12 miles per hour.

Even a cur­sory drive through north­east Allen County’s Amish coun­try re­veals sev­eral barn roofs adorned with high-tech wind­mills that — while much closer to the ground and smaller than Wa­gler’s pro­posed 7-foot blades — have much the same func­tion.

“Twelve volts is OK,” Wa­gler said, demon­strat­ing the dimly lit elec­tric lamp in his kitchen.

Brian Burkholder, who owns So­lar En­ergy Sys­tems of Nap­pa­nee, said that about 70 per­cent of his cus­tomers are Amish. He’s Amish too.

“Our busi­ness is tripling ev­ery year. (Amish) are sup­posed to have no elec­tric­ity ex­cept for bat­tery power,” Burkholder said. “You just about have to have elec­tric­ity for some things to­day, but you want to keep your kids from be­ing tempted by TV and ra­dio.”

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