Harnessing the power of the sun and wind is not only a renewable solution to the nation's energy crisis, but a profitable one as well. Tri-Cities individuals and business owners are discovering first-hand the environmental and economic benefits of having solar energy systems installed through local alternative energy contractor, EcoLogical Energy Systems (EES).
Our customers not only choose our products to be eco-friendly, "but also as a hedge against utility rates always going up and they see it as a smart investment," said Nick Safay, EES Vice President of Operations & Development. All of our energy systems come with a 30 percent tax credit and a 30-year guarantee.
EES, founded by owner Marti Morenings in 2009, opened the doors to its current store location on the Parkway in Bristol, Tenn., in April of 2012. The business has since become one of the leading renewable energy companies in the region through supplying (and installing) solar panel roof- mounts, ground mount systems, awnings, and most recently, carports, for its customers.
Whether at a client's home or office, EES specialists analyze every angle of the space and consider all possibilities so as to provide the client with the most energy- and cost-efficient solar panel configuration.
Lee and Wendy Hoffnung, an environmentally-conscious couple from Bristol, Tenn., sought out EES for roof repairs, hoping they could mix solar panels with the existing shingles on their roof.
After speaking with Safay and "the rest of the crew," Lee Hoffnung said, "We concurred we couldn't do it on the roof and we looked at other options... My wife said, 'How about a carport?' So, we chose that design."
In October 2013, EES mapped out and installed a 2-car carport with 56 250W-rated solar panels - a 14 kW solar photovoltaic system - next to the Hoffnungs' home.
"It took longer for the paperwork to go through than it took to be installed," Lee said smiling. "[EES] had literally everything done within a week. They're wonderful ... they stay with you the entire process and after. It's no lie when I say [they're] family."
EES used MAGE Solar brand solar panels in their layout for the Hoffnungs, as they do with many others. The panels come with micro-inverters which convert direct current (DC) energy into alternating current (AC) energy needed to distribute the power back onto the grid.
"There's online communications so you can monitor each panel individually," Safay said. "So you can see how much you're producing."
The Hoffnungs' solar energy system will produce about 20,000 kW hours a year and Lee said he only uses 14,000 kW hours a year. All of the over-produced solar power is purchased by the local power company, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) at a premium via TVA's solar program, enabling the couple to pay off the system in a projected 10 years.
To date, Lee Hoffnung said his carport has produced a little over 12 MW hours total. "It's great," he said. "Everyone should have [solar panels] on their home really. Everyone should do their part."
Sarah Riggins, EES client and owner of Hawley Farm Stables, has the same type of solar panels as the Hoffnungs on the roof of her horse barn - capable of housing around a dozen horses - in Blountville, Tenn.
"On my roof, I have 40 panels. They are flat; they are discreet; they are low-profile," Riggins said. "I can produce 10 kW ... it's very exciting. I love watching my meter go round."
Since the solar photovoltaic system installed by EES shelters a portion of Riggins' business, it not only earns her a tax credit but other cost incentives as well.
"We wrote a grant for [Sarah] approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)," Safay said. The grant was administered through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and covered 25 percent of the total cost of her solar energy system.
Riggins also gets to write off the system as tax savings for depreciation on the equipment. So, for her, it's a win- win situation.
"I'm looking at probably a five-year payback on this," Riggins said excitedly. From a business perspective, "it makes extraordinary economic sense to do that; to free up that income and start generating income."
EcoLogical Energy Systems is located at 508 Volunteer Parkway in Bristol. For more information, visit www.YourEcoEnergy.com or call 423-573-4361.