Solar-powered electric pumps replacing windmills

Western ranchers are increasingly turning to solar-powered electric pumps to replace windmills, according to The Associated Press.

Ranchers have long used windmills to power pumps that draw well water for livestock to drink in remote grazing areas. However, more are now considering and installing solar-powered pumps due to their reliability and durability. Windmills often break down -- and in the summer, when ranchers need water the most, there's typically less wind.

The solar pumps do cost more than windmills - ranging from $4,500 to more than $10,000 - versus the $5,000 on average it costs to repair or replace a windmill, according to the article.

"If (windmills) are working and meeting the needs of the farm, there's not a reason to go change it," said Mike Morris, farm energy team leader for the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

"But when it breaks and you have to do something different, I would think that if you're far from power, solar is going to be extremely competitive if not the best option in many or most cases."

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