Fed up when power line fell on pet reindeer pen, Alaska man installs solar

WASILLA, Alaska — Four years ago, Harvey Bowers launched a crusade to get off the grid after a line-clearing crew dropped a tree on a pen housing his pet reindeer. So far, the Wasilla area bed and breakfast owner is finding it easier than he thought.

He's not energy independent by a long shot. But he's cut his home power bills nearly in half by switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and installing his own solar power system.

"I haven't gotten rid of anything. I haven't turned off anything," he said. "The more I'm around it ... the more I'm convinced it's possible to go zero energy."

Bowers and his wife, Sandy, are among a wave of people across Alaska hooking up to renewable energy systems. Those systems range from wind turbines in places like Toksook Bay on the western coast of Alaska to a home near Palmer powered by a solar panel mounted in a tree.

No one tracks the use of alternative energy in the state. But homes with backyard wind turbines, solar panels or hydropower easily number in the hundreds, if not more, say those who design, install and sell components for such systems.

Read the full story at