Jim Camasto loves sunny days. The Naperville resident, along with his wife Kath, enjoys seeing the sun out because it helps power his home. The Camastos have solar panels on their roof that provide both electrical and thermal energy to their home. On extra-hot days, excess electricity flows back into the Naperville power grid.
“My neighbors are using it right now,” said Jim Camasto. “It’s a great way to produce energy. I just sit here and let the sun do it for me.”
If you’re enrolled in Naperville’s renewable energy program, you contribute funds to purchase green energy from sources like Camasto’s solar panels. The gadgets on his roof are one truly local source that plugs clean energy back into the electric grid. Other clean energy sources supported by the program, like the Mendota Hills wind farm near Paw Paw, IL, produce energy that doesn’t necessarily make it back into Naperville. However, for the city, it’s still important to be supporting green projects in Illinois.
“Even those kilowatt hours aren’t necessarily aren’t coming directly to your home, they’re being put into the grid,” said Mark Curran, Naperville’s Director of Public Utilities Electric. “And by you buying those certificates it allows for additional development of wind resources in the state.”
For Curran, the main goal is to become less dependent on carbon-producing energy sources. That’s why he says having nearly 4800 program participants is so promising in a program that is still in its relative infancy.
“We’re one of the youngest programs in the country,” said Curran. “And to be in the top 5 as far as percentage of customers that participate on a national level is very encouraging.”
Jim Camasto is encouraged in the city’s green initiatives as well. He was initially making what he calls a “simple home investment,” and ended up with much more—producing about two-thirds of his own energy while releasing no greenhouse gases.
“I don’t think I’m a hero for doing these things,” said Camasto. “I could have easily taken the same amount of money and bought a Toyota Prius and cut my gas bill in half instead of my electric bill or my natural gas bill. So it’s kind of the equivalent.”
That’s why the Camastos find themselves always hoping for sunny days.
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