January-February 2016 | BRIGHT FUTURE




From residential homes to commercial applications, Green Street Solar is helping Eastern Shore residents harness the energy-saving power of the sun

Written By: Brian Shane

For as long as he could remember, Tom Fouracre had wanted to put solar panels on the roof of his home in Milton, Delaware. After meeting with five different contractors, only one of them was a clear choice to get the job done.

“I’m glad I found Russell,” he said. “He’s the only one I ever would have let put holes in my roof.”

He’s talking about Russell Pfaller, with Green Street Solar, based in Selbyville, Delaware. Pfaller is not only their lead salesperson, but he’s also oversees the installation, and that’s the reason Fouracre decided to put his trust in them.

“It’s really simple: Russell was very professional,” Fouracre said. “The job he did for us was such a clean and neat installation compared to other jobs I’ve seen. Everything he would say he would do, he did. There were no surprises — and that’s important when you’re spending $25,000.”

Fouracre had 33 solar panels installed on the roof of his five-bedroom home, and on the roof of another outbuilding on his property. His average monthly electric bill — which always ran high because of his home’s three heat pumps — plummeted from $300 to $100. 

On top of the savings, he’s also received $18,000 back in grants and tax subsidies for the project, as well as a monthly check for the extra electricity he’s putting back on the grid, thanks to renewable energy credits granted by the state.

“After you get all those monies back,” Fouracre said, “it doesn’t really cost you all that much.”

Pfaller said reaping the financial benefits is the most important reason people decide to install energy-saving solar panels on their home.

Most systems he installs are typically a $20,000 investment, so having the federal government’s 30 percent federal tax credit available is a big deal. That credit is slated to sunset at the end of next year.

“It’s like buying a car. It’s a commitment. People that are kind of cynical, they almost have to hear it from three or four people, actual homeowners that have it, before they accept the idea that it’s a worthy thing,” he said. “You’re looking at a six-year range for dollars invested to dollars realized.”

It’s not unusual for solar panels to generate more power than your home is actually using, especially on sunny days. When that happens, your home’s electric meter will actually go in reverse, and you’ll be credited for that excess power generation.

Solar power generation generally covers 60 percent a home’s utility bill, Pfaller said. 

“Some people produce enough energy from their solar panels that they never have to buy power from their utility,”
he said.

When Green Street Solar started putting up solar panels in 2008, the capacity was 200 watts each. Now, thanks to advances in solar panel technology, they can generate up to 300 watts each, a 50 percent increase in efficiency. 

Inverter technology — the part of the panels that converts direct current to alternating current — has improved as well. Some systems can connect to your home WiFi signal, too, sending out automated email alerts if there’s ever a problem.

“Most people can monitor their solar systems with their smart phones. You can go onto your app, see exactly how many watts are coming out of your solar system, how much power you’ve made this week,” Pfaller said.

Installation of a solar system can take 6-8 weeks. Green Street Solar does all their work in-house, including a team of licensed electricians, and do not subcontract out any part of the process. Pfaller noted that it’s against federal law for a homeowner’s association to deny someone installation of solar panels. 

Even though solar panels are still considered a luxury item, Pfaller says he regularly gets customers who have no problem investing in his products, because of their ardent dedication to being environmentally conscious.

“Of course they care about the cost of the system,” he said, “but they feel like it’s their duty to take care of the Earth, because they’ve got to leave it to some-body else.”


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