A Publication of WTVP

The recent addition of Bauer Power to the Peoria area is another step in the direction of making the Midwest—and the Peoria area—a haven for green, sustainable energy.

Mark Bauer of Bauer Power is a long-time environmentalist and owner of a company that focuses on sustainable and renewable energy sources—including wind, solar electric and solar thermal systems. Based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bauer Power opened a second location in Dunlap in July, bringing with it big hopes of helping the region take advantage of its resources and make great strides towards sustainability.

“We like to work in the Midwest, we want to grow our business in the Midwest, and we think Peoria is the heartland of the state,” Bauer stated. He believes this is the right time to expand his business and cites numerous reasons why the Peoria area is the right setting in which to do so. “It’s all right here,” he said, “laid out in front of us, just like it is in Michigan.”

With the headquarters of Caterpillar planted firmly in Peoria, Bauer believes that central Illinois could potentially benefit from sustainable energy equipment made by a company known for its high-quality products—and its sustainability initiatives. “We think [Caterpillar] could one day make a medium-sized wind machine like [those that] John Deere is getting into—not one of these monsters, and not a tiny one to put on a home, but a medium-class wind turbine. It’s a wide open market.”

The Illinois River also makes the region attractive to Bauer Power. The skyrocketing price of oil has made it very expensive to transport the massive equipment and parts needed to build wind turbines and solar panels, and the Peoria area’s waterways offer a practical solution.

Then there is the workforce which already exists here. Bauer said he plans to hire a crew of five to eight people within the first 12 months of operation here in Peoria, all of whom will be “local people who have experience in the construction industry.”

Crises are Opportunities

While other industries are downsizing and condensing facilities, the field of renewable energy is growing at an extraordinary pace as people begin to realize its urgency.

“Thirty-four years ago there were 1.5 billion people on this planet. That took [about] 1,974 years to happen. In a simple 34-year time span, we’ve quadrupled to 6.5 billion people on this planet.” And each of these people, Bauer points out, needs to be sheltered and fed, which requires more and more energy.

“Human existence and the stress on our planet are forcing its resources to be pushed to the breaking point. Our fossil fuel-centric world can’t continue…to supply that need for billions of people who continue to want more food, shelter and energy.” Last year alone, Americans used 18 million barrels of oil. It takes the earth nearly 1,000 years to produce that much oil, noted Bauer, a pace which is unsustainable.

Ironically, it’s the low cost of energy that has kept us using so much of it. Because our nation subsidizes fossil fuel industries, rates have remained affordable. “The self-perpetuation of inefficiency is because of that very thing—we are right where we are, using a profound amount of energy, because it’s so cheap, and we’re not going to stop using so much until it costs us more,” explained Bauer. “Gasoline is a prime example of that.”

In recent months, many motorists have ditched SUVs and changed their driving tendencies to squeeze as many miles as possible out of each gallon. But this, Bauer points out, is reactive, not proactive, behavior. By acting now and investing in sustainable energy systems, Americans can “hedge their costs.” Most of our current systems, Bauer noted, are only good for 20 to 40 years, after which they must be replaced. By replacing them now with sustainable systems utilizing wind and solar power, Americans can save money in the long run.

“We need to be good stewards of the earth. We need to think of the generations behind us and not burn every single drop of everything we can find,” said Bauer. “Once we leave, we leave a legacy. We may be gone, but our usage of energy is lasting.”

Bauer suggests that our country now has a great opportunity to take back what we lost in the ‘60s when solar technology was lost to European companies. “Now we’ve got an opportunity to start doing it again here, making it not only for our needs, but for the rest of the world’s needs.”

Systems and Services

If a client is interested in implementing a renewable energy system at his/her home or business, Bauer Power first conducts a site survey, determining how, where and what systems will be effective at the specific location. After measuring weather conditions and available space, they will suggest the most efficient and cost-effective solution—wind electric, solar electric or solar thermal.

If you live in a particularly gusty location, wind power may be right for you. Turbines convert the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power that turns a generator, creating electricity. Bauer Power works with several different kinds of turbines, but all must be at least 30 feet above the tallest buildings and trees within a 300-foot radius.

Photovoltaics (PV), or solar electric power, requires only a 180-degree, southern exposure to the sun, according to Bauer. While solar hot water is more efficient, PV is the best way to turn sunlight into electricity. “The solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material, producing electricity,” explains their website. Solar electric systems can be installed just about anywhere, can be almost any size, require little maintenance and are often the cheapest sustainable solution.

Solar hot water systems are the most efficient of all. Each system requires solar collectors and a storage tank, which, when well maintained, can last for more than 20 years. Bauer also utilizes solar hot water systems to heat residential and commercial swimming pools.

Any renewable energy system designed by Bauer Power can be hooked up to the grid, allowing for the transfer of excess electricity to neighbors. In some areas, this can provide a small source of income.

Bauer Power doesn’t manufacture the components in their solar- and wind-powered systems itself; they purchase other companies’ products that they’ve found to be first-in-class and design systems around them. They are the exclusive dealer for some products, including the Swift Wind Turbine (Michigan) and Glory Wind (Iowa). “We specify the equipment, design the system and then integrate and install the system,” said Bauer.

Many clients are uncertain how to navigate the legalese of local ordinances and zoning laws. Bauer Power can be of help here, too. “Not only will we attend variance meetings for [clients], but we’ll prepare them with all of the necessary literature, documentation, site plans and everything that they’re going to need,” Bauer reported. The only requirement of homeowners is to obtain a copy of their community’s local ordinances, which will be analyzed by Bauer’s crew when they complete a site survey.

If financing is necessary, Bauer Power can help clients decide which option best fits their situations and connect them with the right people. Bauer performs annual check-ups and routine maintenance on the systems they install. Customers also have the option of utilizing Bauer’s Energy Consumption Intervention services, which include a consultation, training and reviews, in addition to meter, outlet, carbon monoxide and radon monitoring.

With a complete line of sustainable services, Bauer Power can design and implement a renewable energy system for every situation. They strive to educate the public on the damage of nonrenewable energy sources and help clients reduce their carbon footprints and become part of the solution to our energy crisis. For more information, visit iBi