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Retired Educators Get First Solar Panels in Hastings

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Tim and Pam Smith closely monitor the electric meter on their workshop after installing 30 new solar panels. To their surprise, they were the first couple in Hastings to install the panels.

"We didn't realize we were the first ones and so being the first ones, that takes a little longer to get everything in line," Tim Smith says.

Working together with Hastings Utilities, the Smiths were able to come up with a plan that helps them achieve their goals and still benefits the utility.

"I guess we look at it as we'll serve the customer to the point they want to be served and if they want to try and be self-sufficient or replace some of the energy they would get from us with the installation like the Smiths are going forward with, that's fine with us," says Hastings Utilities Customer Relations coordinator Steve Cogley.

The Smiths will still rely on Hastings Utilities when Mother Nature can't provide the energy they need.

"It never used to be cloudy till I put solar panels up. Now it's been cloudy every day and snowed – you have to get up and clean the snow off the solar panels," Tim Smith jokes.

The Smiths were able to afford the solar panels by taking advantage of a tax credit from the federal government. After being a science teacher for over 30 years, Pam Smith says this gives her the chance to practice the good stewardship she taught her students.

"This is an opportunity for us to actually walk the walk, not just talk the talk about conservation. Somebody has to start somewhere," exclaims Smith.

Putting up solar panels isn't affordable for everyone but some energy saving tips you can start with today include changing your light bulbs to LEDs and unplugging all your devices before you leave the house.

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