The energy required to live comfortably and sustainably is available for free—you simply need to harvest it.
For John and Debbie Miggins, “harvest” is both the name of their company, and also a call to action. Their energy systems make it possible for anyone to harvest and incorporate renewable energy from Oklahoma’s abundant resources into their homes and reap the long-term economic and environmental benefits. The couple owns Harvest Solar Energy, a Tulsa-based renewable energy solutions provider for Oklahoma and bordering states, and the newest partner on The Joinery building project.
To achieve Living Building Challenge™ certification, The Joinery has to meet 20 Imperatives. No. 6 is Net Positive Energy. This means 105 percent of our energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. In other words, our building must produce more energy than it consumes.
We are consulting with Harvest Solar on our entire energy system, which includes installing 36 solar panels on the commercial kitchen (formerly a Tastee Freez) next door to help power The Joinery. We are currently implementing Phase I of the system and will document the process on our Instagram and detail the completed system in a future Journal post.
The Migginses entered the renewable energy industry over two decades ago, when these solutions were more expensive and less accessible, out of their personal “desire to live softly on the earth.”
“It means to consider the impact you are having and try and minimize it, for your benefit and your children's children. It's beyond sustainable—it’s spiritual really,” John said,
We asked John and Debbie Miggins a few questions about their life and work. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Elaborate on Harvest Solar’s “holistic approach to energy.”
The holistic approach sprang from our early days [when] solar was very expensive. So instead of advocating to go all solar, we focused on your needs and tried to meet them in the most sustainable way.
What are the benefits of solar energy for the everyday homeowner?
Everyone can incorporate solar energy, and many have. The benefits of owning your energy system, locking in pricing, getting tax credits, and saving the earth is a hard package to beat. Especially in these times of financial uncertainty, an investment in an energy system will pay dividends for the next 25 years. We have not done one system [where] someone didn't say, “I wish I had done it earlier.”
Harvest Solar’s largest local project: Guthrie Green
Where can the everyday homeowner begin to incorporate more renewable energy?
If you look at the needs (hot water, lighting, heating) in a wheel, try and get half the wheel [using] direct systems with the highest efficiency. Air conditioning is the big challenge but [there are] new battery systems and mini-splits...We offer DC (direct current) appliances like fridges and freezers, fans, etc., which are all good for off-grid people and camping. These all help reduce load on the energy system and allow it to handle more of the house.
With the Sol-Ark Inverter and battery system [for The Joinery], you are getting the top hybrid inverter capable of more energy production, storage, and comfort than any other. We really like it and the story they have to tell is compelling as well. It's an exciting time in the industry and with people like you all, together we can point the way to a new energy future.
What has motivated you for the last 20-plus years in this industry?
Over the past 20 years we have seen much change, more interest...We are motivated by the wonderful people we meet and help as well as the technology that keeps improving. We are doing lots of batteries now and that is exciting.
Why are you partnering with The Joinery project?
When I heard about The Joinery project and met Nathan [Pickard] and crew, I knew we had to be part of this. In the end you will be judged by what you have done and any small mark you may have made on the world. We are happy to help contribute to this project and see the light bulbs going off...Nathan has a can-do attitude and that is infectious. People always want to be part of something bigger if there is opportunity and purpose.