MERRILLVILLE — Former Merrillville Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey wants to see some bright and sunny weather during his retirement, but it doesn’t have to be in a tropical location.
Guernsey is hoping for clear skies in Northwest Indiana after 44 solar panels were installed recently on his 20-acre property in the east side of Merrillville.
“It’s a really good size,” he said of the solar array.
Guernsey, who served as Merrillville’s clerk-treasurer from 2008 to 2020, said pursuing the project was “a no-brainer” because of the many advantages it creates, but there’s one reason that stands out more than others.
Guernsey said he wants to do his part to help the environment so his grandchildren can have a cleaner world to live in.
“I feel like the more I do, the better it is,” he said.
Guernsey said the solar panels power his home, and he also sells power back to NIPSCO.
“I don’t pay anything on electricity in my house,” he said.
Guernsey long has been interested in renewable energy, and he also explored installing a wind turbine at this property.
He said wind turbines involve significant maintenance, including ensuring they’re properly lubricated, and that factored into his decision to use solar energy.
“I’m 77, I don’t think I could get up there and grease that,” Guernsey said of wind turbine maintenance.
He said solar panel maintenance will primarily occur in winter, when he will have to clear snow of the devices.
“That’s been a good fit for me,” Guernsey said of his panels.
He said he worked with Jefferson Electric, which is based in Indianapolis, for his solar project. A crew of about a dozen workers came to his property in recent weeks and had the array installed in three days.
Merrillville’s Stormwater Utility Executive Director Matt Lake, who has a strong background in environmental matters, said he applauds Guernsey for using and investing in renewable energy.
“I think it’s a positive step,” Lake said.
He said there isn’t a significant amount of residents with solar arrays like Guernsey’s, but his project could help bring awareness to the benefits of renewable energy.
“As the technology gets better, it’s going to become more commonplace,” he said of solar panels.
Lake encourages everyone to examine how they can be more environmentally conscious.
“When everybody does a little, it makes a big difference,” he said.
Installing solar panels isn’t the only action Guernsey is taking to live a greener life.
Guernsey said he’s been “environment crazy” since retirement. Besides the solar array, he’s placed a stronger emphasis on recycling and composting.
“For some reason, I really like doing this,” he said.