Photovoltaic panels line the sunroom roof of the barn at the Indian Creek Nature CenterA leader in energy efficiency, the Indian Creek Nature Center began using photovoltaics in 1993. The first system stored solar produced electricity in batteries. This type of system allows a homeowner or business to draw on the electricity even when the sun is not shining, but some possible energy is lost in the transfer into and back out of the batteries. The system was generating about 10 percent of what the Center was using.

A new system was designed in 2003. The current photovoltaic array, located on the sunroom roof, is not a battery system. Instead, it is net metered into Alliant Energy’s electrical grid. When the Nature Center produces more energy than it uses, the surplus electricity enters the electric grid and is used by other Alliant customers. Selling surplus electricity to Alliant further reduces our energy bill. The system currently generates about 40 percent of our energy needs, powering lights, appliances, and computers.   Find more information on photovoltaics from Pfoff ElectricIowa Energy Center, Go Solar! and I-Renew.