25.2kW Ground Mount Array in Clarke County, Virginia
This 25.2kW ground mounted array in Boyce, VA consists of 72 SilFab 350w modules optimized by SolarEdge.
On Earth Day in 1981, Ron Light stood with a classmate on the grassy eastern slopes of the famed Beaver Stadium at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and watched the sunrise. The incident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant two years earlier, near Harrisburg, was still fresh in his mind. “This,” he said, motioning to the sun rising through the morning mist, “could be the future of America’s energy needs.”
It was an event caught on tape by the local TV station, and to most people it probably seemed quaint: “solar power” was still largely confined to rooftop passive solar installations to heat hot water, and oil and coal provided the vast majority of electricity to America.
Thirty-seven years later, Light, a retired Colonel in the US Army Corps of Engineers, and his wife Beth have realized their dream of “going solar” and have the largest residential solar array in the City of Winchester, Frederick and Clarke County. Light is the owner and craftsman of Lighthouse Woodworking and has an advanced degree in environmental engineering from the University of Virginia; for him, “going solar” is another step in the family’s desire to preserve the environment.
“Our property in Clarke County is in a conservation easement, and rather than farm it in a traditional way, we decided to plant hardwood trees some years ago. In 2015, we planted over 2,000 trees: red oak, white oak, walnut, hard maple, black locust, persimmon and dogwood,” says Light. Gerald Crowell, a local State Forester who advised the Lights, noted at the time that few people plant hardwood trees, opting instead for softwoods. The Lights, he said, were certainly taking the long view.
A long view indeed: the walnut trees on the couple’s Morning Star Farm will be ready for harvest in about 80 years, Light said. It is unlikely that the couple will see a monetary return on their investment during their lifetimes.
Enter Mountain View Solar (mtvSolar), a local company with a proven track record of residential and commercial solar installations. “mtvSolar was one of seven companies who provided us quotes for our system,” notes Beth Light, another University of Virginia graduate, with a degree in biology. “We recognized that the pay-back period for our solar installation would be a number of years, but like our trees, we were committed to proceeding knowing that eventually the system would pay for itself.” The couple calculates their 25.2-kilowatt (KW) system will pay for itself in about 8.7 years; this includes the 30% Federal Income Tax credit that is currently available.
Ron and Beth Light will host an open house on their property on 20 October 2018 to allow interested persons to see their system and speak with representatives from mtvSolar about “going solar.” The open house will include a barbecue lunch catered by Up in Smoke Barbecue, of Winchester. The event will take place from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Click HERE to RSVP or visit the FaceBook event for details.