Bright Future for Solar Energy on Delmarva - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Bright Future for Solar Energy on Delmarva

Posted: Mar 22, 2019 03:01 PM
Solar panels on the property of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, Md. (Photo: WBOC) Solar panels on the property of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, Md. (Photo: WBOC)
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    WBOC on Friday held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new solar farm that will be built in back of the company's flagship location in Salisbury, Md. It's not just WBOC that is realizing the benefits of adopting solar power. Perdue Farms, Salisbury University and the Town of Ocean City are harnessing the power of the sun to help provide for their energy needs.

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DELMARVA- Electricity-generating solar panels are springing up everywhere across the U.S., including on Delmarva. You don't have to travel far to see everything from solar panels on the rooftops of homes to solar farms outside businesses, schools and universities.

Demand for solar energy in the United States is at an all-time high, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which said the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. increased more than 23 times - from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts at the end of 2015. Citing stats from the Solar Energy Industries Association, the DOE noted that this is enough energy to power the equivalent of 5.4 million average American homes.

There are some major incentives for choosing to go solar, including financial returns and lower monthly utility bills and increased home values, according to the DOE. The department also noted that as a renewable energy source, each kilowatt-hour of solar that is generated will substantially reduce greenhouse emissions like CO2, along with other dangerous pollutants that get into the air we breathe. 

The growing popularity of solar as an alternative energy source in the U.S. has also been seen on Delmarva, according to Jeremy Tucker, a spokesperson for Delaware Electric Cooperative, which serves nearly 100,000 members in Kent and Sussex counties.

"In the past couple of years we've seen a dramatic increase in homes installing solar panels," Tucker said. "There's a lot of demand for it. If you drive up and down the state you'll see solar panels everywhere, particularly at the beach. And many builders are including them in houses they're selling."

Tucker said that right now the co-op has more than 1,000 member homes that have installed solar panels. He cited a couple chief reasons why solar is becoming more popular.

It's becoming more cost effective and people want a positive impact on environment

Tucker noted that the cost for manufacturers to produce solar panels and the cost to the consumer has dropped substantially in the past five to seven years, giving consumers an incentive to turn to solar energy.

DEC itself operates a 20-acre solar farm on East Trap Pond Road and Substation Road just outside of Georgetown, which produces enough energy to power about 500 co-op homes in the area, Tucker said.

Built in 2012, the co-op's solar farm has been "efficient and successful for us since then," Tucker said, adding that the solar farm is expandable up to 40 acres.

In addition to solar power, DEC utilizes other forms of alternative energy, such as wind power and methane gas from landfills.

"While we're always going to need the traditional energy generation using fossil fuels because we can't schedule the wind to blow or the sun to shine, every utility at this point needs some form of renewable energy," Tucker said.

Warren Miller, owner of Paradise Energy Solutions, a solar energy installation company with multiple locations including Salisbury, Md., says this is the last year to take advantage of a 30 percent tax credit for installing solar panels. Next year, it drops to 26 percent, then 22 percent, then to 10 percent before tax credit goes away completely. Maryland is also offering a $1,000 residential state credit on top of the tax credit.

Miller says solar panels eventually pay for themselves.

"And if a system produces a surplus, the electric company will pay you for it," Miller said. "Once a year, the electric company will pay you back for any unused electricity."

When compared to other renewable energy sources, Miller said Delmarva is definitely a solar area. Much like tourists coming to the area's many beaches, the peninsula gets a lot of sunshine, making solar a top energy choice, he said.

Also on the Web:

Homeowner's Guide to Going Solar: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/homeowner-s-guide-going-solar

The Solar Foundation https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/

Solar Energy Industries Association https://www.seia.org/

Top 6 Things Didn't Know About Solar Energy https://www.energy.gov/articles/top-6-things-you-didnt-know-about-solar-energy

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