clear creek festival
Clear Creek Festival, LLC, is a business that hosts a music and arts festival each summer on 60 remote acres in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. The business is jointly owned by Bob Martin and Carrie Brunk. The festival site is not connected to the electric power grid so was previously dependent on generators to power the event. In 2009 the festival’s stage lights and sound were powered completely by off-grid solar electricity generated from the solar energy trailer of the Kentucky Solar Partnership. For the 2010 season, Bob and Carrie looked into the possibility of getting grid-tied electricity from the local rural electric cooperative out to the festival stage. When they were told by their electric service provider that it would cost $7,000 to bring power from the closest utility pole, they decided to install their own solar electric system instead.
Based on technical assistance provided by MACED Energy Specialist Josh Bills, Bob and Carrie chose to install a 615-watt solar electric system that will produce 80 kWh per month. They also installed enough battery capacity to store 28 kWh, which is the amount of electricity needed to power the stage lights and sound system for the entire three-day festival. The design they chose allows for the easy addition of 1230 watts of additional solar modules, without adding or changing any components, if more power to the site is ever needed.
A loan of $10,000 from MACED in June 2010 financed the purchase and installation of the solar electric system. The loan also financed the construction of a structure to house the batteries and support the photovoltaic modules. Bob and Carrie turned the installation into a two-day training for people interested in solar electric systems, led in part by Josh. Participants included three electrical contractors and two electrical engineers, all of whom are working toward National Accredited Board Certified Energy Practitioners certification.
Payback on the installation should take just seven years, based on business tax savings, the avoided cost of bringing electric grid power to the site, and the avoided cost of electricity-price increases.