Solar business hopes to shine in Upshur County

BUCKHANNON — A local entrepreneur has turned to the sun to power his new business.
Doyle Tenney says DT Solar is as much about lowering energy bills as it is protecting the environment. Tenney got into the solar business because he saw the benefits — both environmental and economical — after installing the green energy producing panels on his own home.
“Honestly, it was a little political [at first],” Tenney said.  “I believe in climate change, but whenever I put solar on my own home and saw how much it changed my electric bill, I thought about the realization that this will pay for itself in about 10 years.”
That means the panels, which have a 25-year warranty, could produce thousands of dollars in overall savings.
“It’s like paying your electric bill eight years in advance, and as long as they have the 30 percent tax credit, they will get 25 years of electricity,” Tenney said, explaining that West Virginia’s average electricity inflation rate of 8.47 percent means the average power bill of $53 in 2007 is now $116.
“This isn’t the case for everyone, but [paying for a solar system up-front] could save you thousands of dollars and pay itself off in around 10 years, and there is a 25-year warranty,” Tenney said.
Customers in West Virginia receive a 30 percent federal tax credit for having solar panels on their home, according to Tenney, and DT provides an additional 10 percent discount for those who live in Upshur County.
DT provides three kinds of solar systems: an on-grid system, an off-grid system and a hybrid system that combines the two.
According to Tenney, the best investment — and cheapest overall — can be found in the on-grid system. This system is connected to the traditional power grid but first uses the available solar power, which means your electric bill will be as low as $5 — the fee to stay on the grid. The downside is that the power will not stay on during a power outage.
An off-grid system is the most expensive and complicated to install, but the home is entirely powered by solar energy, with no connection to the traditional power grid at all. Solar power is stored in large battery packs to make it available at all times.
A hybrid system merges the two, using batteries to store some solar power but also maintaining a connection to the traditional power grid. This is an ideal upgrade for those who already have an on-grid solar system, because the battery works similar to a generator in the event of power outages.
Tenney said solar panels can be installed almost anywhere, integrate seamlessly into a home and are not hard to maintain.
“As long as the roof isn’t completely flat, the rain will clean the panels without you having to do anything,” Tenney said. “I have never had to go up and clean my own panels.”
Solar systems work best when they don’t face north, as northward-facing panels drive production down to 40 percent.
The DT Solar office is located at 1181 Rt 20 South Rd., right across from the Upshur County Pubic Library. To make an appointment about an installation or get a quote call 304-406-8181.

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