One household in St. James has the distinct honor of being the first in the city to incorporate solar power. Jena and Rick Huizinga, the owners, have worked along with Missouri Solar Applications to make it easier for others to do the same.

One household in St. James has the distinct honor of being the first in the city to incorporate solar power. Jena and Rick Huizinga, the owners, have worked along with Missouri Solar Applications to make it easier for others to do the same.

Since this is the first solar energy project in the city, there wasn’t a streamlined application process to follow in order to have the equipment installed and incorporated with the municipal utilities. So, the city passed an ordinance, written according to a template provided by the Missouri Public Utilities Association, to create the application for future solar installations. With everything set with the city, the first solar installation in the city of St. James is scheduled for next week, much to the excitement of Rick and Jena Huizinga.

“We had talked about it from time to time for many years,” explained Jena, who said they put it off due to the costs involved. However, after considering the benefits, such as promoting clean and renewable energy, and the fact they live in what she described as an area good for solar energy, Jena and Rick decided there was no time like the present.

It might be about 10 years before they start really see the payoff from the incorporation of solar energy, which will reduce their electricity bill in proportion to what the solar system produces, but by planning for the future, they can look forward being able to set some money aside for future savings.

In addition, their neighbors may also benefit from the solar installation, according to Jeffery Owens, vice president of operations for Missouri Solar Applications, the company building and installing the system. Owens encourages residents to think of electricity likes water, which will follow the path of least resistance.

“If they don’t have lightbulb on, or a single thing on in their house, then the electricity produced by the solar module will flow through the electrical grid to their neighbor’s house,” Owens said.“It benefits their neighbors as well by providing clean energy to the local neighborhood.” Those nearby may also see a small reduction in their bills as the excess electricity from the solar panels enters their homes.

Owens said the average amount a household might save by incorporating solar energy has a wide range, depending on the amount electricity each house uses, but a common amount of savings can equal around $100 a month, or a little over $1000 a year. The majority of cost associated with solar power, according to Owens comes from the upfront building and installation, with minimal maintenance costs, and no fuel costs whatsoever.

“To compare apples to apples,” said Owens. It’s about one-half to two-thirds of what they would pay to have it from the utility. Over time it pays for itself.”

The solar modules, as Owens described them, operate by generating direct current into the home’s wiring.


“Every time you change forms of energy, like storing it in batteries, you lose about 20%
[of energy],” he explained. “The best thing is to just energize the electrical wiring directly, with the overflow moving to neighboring houses to be used immediately.” Following that process, the electricity is run through what Owens called an inverter, which changes the electricity from a direct current to an alternating current.

For those interested in adding solar power to their household, Jena Huizinga, recommends looking at the numbers and costs involved, to see if it’s right for them. With the city of St. James now having a process for homeowners to apply to add the equipment, it should be easier than ever to incorporate green energy into their lives.