Fayetteville, N.C. — A Cumberland County couple is turning the golden rays of the sun into green.
Randy and Anke Darling have built a solar-powered home on three wooded acres in the Eastover community and are selling the excess power they generate to South River Electric Membership Corp., the local utility.
"You get a tax incentive, and we're doing something for the environment," Anka Darling said.
Installing solar panels on a residence entitles a homeowner to a 30 percent credit on state and federal taxes. The couple also is selling the electricity at 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is double what it costs them to produce it.
The couple spent about $47,800 on the solar-power system, which was installed by Fayetteville-based Alternative Energy Concepts, but Randy Darling said the system is paying for itself by replacing their monthly power bill with a check for the electricity they're selling.
"(In) seven to 10 years, it's paid for, and it's all profit from there on out for us," he said.
Central North Carolina has more than 110 sunny days during an average year, which is more than famously sunny places like Key West and Orlando, Fla., according to the National Weather Service.
Anka Darling said her native Germany, which is not known for its sunny climes, is the world's largest producer of solar power. She said she doesn't understand why the southern U.S. can't harness more solar energy than it does.
"I think it's pretty sad that we have not, in all the years that we've had the technology, that nobody's really tapped into it," she said.