The spirit of solar is alive and well at Prout’s Funeral Home in Verona, N.J. And it’s manifested not only in the 25.6 kW of solar energy third-generation proprietor Robert Prout employs to power his home and offices, but in
Prout’s quest to be among the first solar powered funeral homes began in earnest in 2004, when he heard New Jersey was entering into a clean energy program. By 2005, he had 114 roof-mounted PV panels (17.4 kW) saving him $600 and $800 a month on his electric bill. “Solar installations in the state have gone from next to nothing to over 4,000. Incentives have jump-started the solar industry, created green sector jobs, reduced grid demand and they’re helping the environment,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the few government programs that really works.”
The technology worked so well he almost immediately applied for a second phase, which he’d slated for a parking lot adjacent to his business. The plan called for a carport type structure that, he found out, might need Zoning Authority approvals. Not wanting to embark into a maze of regulatory boards, the enthusiastic Prout suggested an alternative. Months back, he’d cleared shrubbery on top of a retaining wall and erected a 6-foot tall decorative fence. “It’s OK to have a fence on my property, correct?” he asked. “Of course,” was the reply. “And I can decorate it any way I please, wouldn’t you say?” he continued. “Suppose so,” the town responded.
Solar evangelist Bob Prout then proceeded to “decorate” his south-facing fence with 36 additional panels — another 8.2 kW of solar energy. “It’s one of those solutions where everyone wins.” And Robert Prout, his family and his funeral home are about 98% independent of the grid.