The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 13, 2010

Amish energy revolution hits Daviess County

The price of oil has once again started to creep upward. Many believe that gasoline and diesel will soon hit the $3 per gallon mark. The rise has been slow this time, prices inching up a little each month. But many have slipped back into old habits. Plans to install solar panels or a wind turbine were put on the back burner when the oil to heat that burner got cheap again.

People have started to drive more, too, but those through the Amish community in Daviess County may be a bit surprised when they realize the Amish have taken the lead in future energy technologies.

Solar panels and wind turbines can be seen on many Amish houses and barns. To some this may seem odd, but those who know the Amish are probably not so surprised. Their ingenuity is well known, and if “necessity is the mother of invention,” then the simple life may very well be the nurturing playground of its development.

According to sources in the Amish community this Amish energy revolution has been a combination of necessity and a well-timed purchase of a truck load of solar panels more than two decades ago by an Amish entrepreneur who owned a popular small engine shop in rural Montgomery.

It was also during this time that there was an electrical energy crisis in the Amish community. This may seem to be a contradiction in terms, but it came about by a new law that had been passed that required buggies to be equipped with electrical lights. The 12-volt lights required car batteries to power them, and these batteries had to be recharged regularly. This took electricity, and that was a problem, since the Amish shun being hooked up to the modern day electrical grid system.

The Amish did use small gasoline engines though, and the aforementioned small engine shop became busy putting together and selling alternator kits that could be driven by a small gasoline engine and wired to charge 12-volt batteries.

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