>La Grande Observer | Union and Wallowa Counties' News Leader

Observer news NE Oregon Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Follow LaGrandeObserver.com

La Grande Observer print edition

view all La Grande Observer print publications »

The Observer Paper 11/26/14

The LaGrande Observer is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

View Paper

If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access.


Recent article comments

Powered by Disqus




ALTERNATIVE ENERGY ADVOCATE: Chuck Koch relies on solar and wind power to provide about half of his Elgin home's energy needs. Rebates and tax credits have helped Koch build his system. (The Observer/ALICE PERRY LINKER).
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY ADVOCATE: Chuck Koch relies on solar and wind power to provide about half of his Elgin home's energy needs. Rebates and tax credits have helped Koch build his system. (The Observer/ALICE PERRY LINKER).

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

ELGIN — Long before the house is visible, the windmill comes into view, standing tall in the pasture, arms turning.

A second, shorter windmill, tiny blades spinning fiercely in the breeze, stands beside the tall structure.

The two windmills, plus the solar tubes on the roof of the house, are Chuck Koch's method for providing heat, hot water and other electrical power to the house he and his wife Kathleen remodeled.

The existing systems provide about half the power needed for the 2,400-square-foot home, but Koch is in the process of building a second solar collection system that will boost the amount of power generated on the ranch.

"It takes 15 years for wind to pay for itself, if you have a good wind site," Koch said while walking around the ranch one partly sunny afternoon last week.

Rebates and tax credits have helped Koch build his system, which includes computerized measuring equipment and a meter that shows the wattage generated by the windmill.

Some of the home's heat comes from the solar tubes. Each room has a thermostat, but "it takes a tremendous amount of heat storage to heat this house every day," so the Kochs use a wood stove to supplement.

On a late March day, a sunroom was summer-warm, as a combination of windows and the solar-power hot water tubes under the floor provided enough heat to keep newborn chicks comfortable.

Developing and studying renewal energy is an avocation and a part-time job for Koch, who has contracted with Northwest SEED and the Union of Concerned Scientists to promote federal legislation favoring renewable energy.

House Bill 1294, sponsored by Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would require most utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2020. The bill was sent March 24 to the House subcommittee on energy and air quality.

The legislation does not specifically discuss energy subsidies, but Koch said he and others who support renewable energy would like to see subsidies at least equal to those given to coal, gas and oil-fired energy generation systems.

"The fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies far exceed the subsidy for renewable energy," he said. "If there's a level playing field, renewable energy will be cost- effective — especially wind."

Koch said wind is not only environmentally friendly, it does not have the adverse health effects created by the oil and coal-dependent energy generators.

Since he began developing renewable energy for his home, Koch has become involved at several levels in promoting the idea of wind power. Last year, he participated in a La Grande forum about wind power, a discussion that attracted a number of Union County residents who expressed interest in developing cooperative wind farms.

The idea of cooperative wind farms in Union County remains just an idea, but Koch said development takes time and study.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of work," he said. "You need to set up a wind monitoring system for a year before you install a system. That can be expensive with no return."

Overall interest in wind and other renewable power — green power — is increasing, as was shown when Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative offered its members an opportunity to buy green power at higher monthly costs.

"A large percentage of members signed up," Koch said. "That is encouraging. There was more interest in that area than OTEC realized."

As to the future, Koch said that the Northwest's hydropower sources have reached


"Yes, hydropower is renewable, but there's not enough of it in the dam system," he said. "We want to avoid gas or coal-fired or nuclear generation. We'd rather see wind farms develop."


blog comments powered by Disqus
Local / Sports / Business / State / National / Obituaries / Public Notices
Editorials / Letters / Guest Columns / Columnists
Outdoors / Ag / Spiritual / Go Magazine / Portraits
View all classifieds / Jobs / Autos / Real Estate / Rentals / Place an Ad
The Observer
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Site Map
Also Online
Photo Reprints / Slideshows / Weather and Valley Cam / /index.php?option=com_rss&feed=RSS2.0&no_html=1">RSS Feed ?> RSS Feed

Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

cheap vardenafil online 
generic viagra quick delivery 
otc viagra alternative 
  • indian viagra cost where to buy viagra in new zealand is levitra over the counter
  • purchase quark for mac buy acrobat xi pro buy microsoft windows xp home edition sp2
    buy microsoft office student 2007 product key 
    best price quicken 2010 deluxe 
    buy windows 7 home premium family pack 
    where can i purchase windows 7 family pack 
    photoshop cs4 prices 
    revit 2015 purchase 
    cheap adobe cs5 master collection http://msh.univ-tours.fr/tmp/?vass=4532&... http://msh.univ-tours.fr/tmp/?vass=4603&...
    cheap quicken 2010 premier buy excel software discount adobe photoshop elements 6
  • buy flash cs5.5 best buy 2007 microsoft office home and student best buy lightroom