Retirees sink savings into green energy switch

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — If you go with green energy and at first don’t succeed, try, try again. Just ask two retirees who sank $30,000 of their life savings into wind turbines on their rural New Braunfels ranch a few years back. It didn’t do so well, but they’re back at it.

Charles Bracewell and Larry Dean say their two wind turbines went kaput, so did the company that installed them. A new company came along that did what it could but unfortunately it wasn’t much.

“Oh, we save about $5 a month on them. Not much,” Bracewell said. “It’s a big disappointment, especially considering the money we put into them.”

Once burned, they thought long and hard about it and decided to take the green plunge again. This time they invested $42,000 for a solar system from Austin’s Circular Energy. And now, it seems, the sun is shining on them.

The system lets them know what each utility is using, like their water heater or even the microwave. It’s an incentive to conserve, they say. Now, they’ve just received their first new utility bill. It was for $21. For the month of August. In Texas.

“If you think of investing that $42,000 on a CD or Savings it would earn you $37 a month. Turns out we’re saving over $200 a month,” Bracewell says with a grin. “August a year ago our bill was $250, so we figure this is a bit better.”

Bracewell and Dean say Pedernales Electric did not offer them an incentive to go solar but they did it anyway and they encourage everyone to check with their utility company for any discounts.

As for those old turbines on the property, Bracewell says, “they’re still spinning and producing some. We’ve got the most expensive yard ornaments in Comal County.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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