News: Want to Add Solar Power on Your Farm? Go to This Workshop

The Solar Energy Workshop for Agricultural Producers is March 10 at OARDC in Wooster. (Photo: Manfredxy from iStock.)

WOOSTER, Ohio — Farmers can save money with solar energy. So can other farm-related businesses. And grants and incentives exist that can help them get started.

So say the organizers of a March 10 workshop at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, who plan to shed light on those topics.

The Solar Energy Workshop for Agricultural Producers will cover “how farmers and businesses in rural areas can take advantage of incentives such as the federal renewable energy tax credits and the USDA renewable energy program to support their projects,” said Mary Wicks, a program coordinator at OARDC and one of the event’s organizers.

The workshop will feature seven sessions by speakers from the farming community, the solar installer community, OARDC, Ohio State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

How to get started, ways to help pay for it

The sessions and speakers at the workshop will be:

  • “Why Solar?” by Fred Michel, associate professor in the college’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering and president of the Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network. The network is co-sponsoring the workshop along with the college. Wooster is in Wayne County.
  • “Considerations for On-Farm Solar Development” by Eric Romich, energy development field specialist for OSU Extension.
  • “On-Farm Solar: Lessons Learned” by Ashland County, Ohio, farmer Don Kettering.
  • “Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)” by Christie Hooks, business program specialist for USDA’s Rural Development program.
  • “Farm Evaluation and System Design, Installation and Utility Interconnection” by Scott Cluff, ag-commercial solar consultant for Athens, Ohio-based Third Sun Solar.
  • “Case Studies from a Solar Installer’s Perspective” by Sheldon Stutzman, solar consultant for Sugarcreek, Ohio-based Paradise Energy Solutions.
  • “Rural System Case Studies” by Lucas Olinyk, vice president of engineering for Harvest Energy Solutions of Jackson, Michigan, and local farmers and business owners who have taken advantage of incentive programs to install solar systems.

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in OARDC’s Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building.

A chance to talk to farmers who use it

Afterward, starting at 1 p.m., participants can visit open houses at several area farms that use solar energy.

Admission to the workshop is free, but advance registration is required. Contact Wicks at or 330-202-3533 for details and to register. Women- and minority-owned businesses are encouraged to attend.

A flier about the workshop can be downloaded at

OARDC’s main entrance is at 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster. The Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building is at 1717 Thorne Road on the campus. A campus map can be found at


Kurt Knebusch


Mary Wicks