As an environmental scientist, I know that burning fossil fuels for electricity is harming our environment. In West Virginia, we are already seeing the effects that climate scientists warned us about decades ago, flooding, droughts, and invasive species. Climate change is a global problem, so what can one person do about it? With the help of Bethlehem Farm, WV Solar United Neighbors, and Solar Holler, I did something about it. I ditched fossil fuels and went solar!
I never knew it could be so easy. A few years ago, I invested in a split-level, brick ranch style house in Lewisburg. The location, east-west facing on a hilltop with no large trees shading the roof, was perfect for solar panels. A year after I bought the house, I learned that Solar United Neighbors was forming a solar co-op for the tri-county area so I signed up to learn more.
A co-op made going solar more affordable by joining with other neighbors interested in solar to get a group discount. WV SUN offered support throughout the competitive bidding process to select an installer. WV has several qualified solar installers who bid on the project. The co-op selected Solar Holler whose staff was very professional and easy to work with, even when I found out I had to replace the roof before the panels could go on. A new roof made the cost go up and I had to figure out if I could afford it. That’s where Bethlehem Farm came in.
Bethlehem Farm’s Green Neighbors program was instrumental in paying for the whole project. Their no interest loan and payment plan for median income levels made going solar a no-brainer. My loan payment is less than my electricity bill. My average daily energy usage over the summer is around 20 kWh. With 36 panels on my roof, I am producing around 55 kWh of electricity on a sunny day. That excess power goes back to the grid to help offset my electricity use during the cold, dark, winter months. I encourage anyone considering going solar to reach out to Bethlehem Farm to see if the Green Neighbors program is the right fit for you. Find out more details at: www.bethlehemfarm.net/solar-panels.
(Submitted by Autumn Crowe, Lewisburg)