© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Charlotte Cyclists Take Solar Panel Tour Of Plaza Midwood


Updated 3:15 p.m. Oct. 7

About 25 solar-curious people pedaled around the Plaza Midwood neighborhood Oct. 5 in the Charlotte Solar Homes Cycling Tour.

The tour was hosted by the environmental group Clean Air Carolina and stopped at six homes with rooftop solar. While some on the tour were still researching solar, others were ready to get a system. Pat Perkins and her husband have done plenty of research and feel they’re ready to buy.

"Learning a little bit more on this tour has been very helpful, just seeing the different, um, panels, installation, and hearing the actual homeowners’ experience has been great for us," Perkins said. "But we’re doing it before the end of the year."

Perkins and her fellow cyclists met homeowners like Lisa Zerkle, someone so excited about solar that she’s willing to open up her home to strangers. Zerkle also wants to give detailed answers to questions about the cost of her system, installation and maintenance, and how much she saves on her electric bill.

For Zerkle, it’s all in service of spreading the message about solar power.

"What I mostly want people to understand is that it’s really a simple step they can take if they’re looking to invest in clean energy and the clean environment for the future, this is a great way to do it," Zerkle said.

Duke Energy estimates more than 12,000 of its North Carolina customers’ homes are powered by solar. And according to state law, homes must be connected to the electric grid. That means working with Duke.

Duke also offers a rebate program, where customers can receive up to $6,000 back on their home solar panel purchases. And, in 2020, homeowners will be able to take advantage of a federal tax credit for 26% of the cost of their system.

Jeff Redwine owns Renewable Energy Design Group, which co-hosted the event with Clean Air Carolina. He says people ask him about the many details involved in the process of getting solar panels.

"'Does it work? Does it make you money?' A lot of questions, uh, really around the financing and the legitimacy of the technology," Redwine said.

Organizers hope to do another solar cycling tour in the near future, and applications for Duke’s 2020 rebate program will open Jan. 2.

Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.