The Boundary Waters is a magical place in the Northland were thousands of tourist travel every summer. Steve Piragis makes his living off these warm summer months and counts on the sunny days to produce his electricity while saving the environment.
Steve Piragis is the Owner of Piragis Northwoods Co. and told me, "On sunny days they make a whole lot more than we use, so on a day like today its perfect. If it weren't for air conditioning we'd be selling a lot of energy back to the city."
The solar panels can produce up to 15 kilowatts of energy, each panel making 225 watts. But he doesn't just rely on solar power, it takes a combination of things to be sustainable.
"We do other things to save energy, we've insulated every possible place we could in our building, its about 7,000 square feet, we put in a hot water panel so all of our hot water comes from solar, we put in all LED light bulbs. We make every change we can and as a result, little by little you get your energy foot print down to as small as you possibly can do it." said Piragis.
LED lights are a big upfront cost, but he has been able to replace all 250, 90 watt bulbs with 18 watt LED's. Saving big money, and a lot of carbon from being dumped into the atmosphere. Piragis says his sustainable practices have been noticed and are rubbing off on his community.
Piragis told me, "Ely is becoming very green. Yeah, we're working on a big project to heat part of the city, that would be biomass oriented. A biomass plant that would heat the college the high school, the city buildings and the hospital."
While there are monetary benefits to being sustainable, Piragis says it's a personal choice to help a global cause.
Piragis said, "Mostly a commitment on our part, Nancy and I believe we want to do whatever we can to help stem climate change and it's a commitment on our part to do whatever we can."
Click Here for a look at how much energy Piragis Northwoods Co. is producing and using!