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Cumberland couple uses sun to power home, make money

Posted September 22, 2009

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— 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.

Solar panels in Cumberland County Family solar system makes enough power to sell

"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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • arielsmom143 Sep 24, 2009

    I think what your doing is GREAT!!

  • fkhaywood Sep 23, 2009

    Insufficient information in article about the electrical capacities of the systems. Info that is needed if someone wants to investigate such a system for their own house. Usually each panel produces about 50 watts, by my count, there are 32 panels or 1600 watts, which is only 1/3 enough to run a hot water heater!
    An electrical engineer.

  • cakeladyrn Sep 23, 2009

    recently traveled to nevada. They are placing solar in the desert. Also saw several wind mills in the Idaho/Oregon line. The cost will have to come down a tremendous amount before the normal family can afford to install this type of equipment.

  • lizard Sep 23, 2009

    Ohmygosh -

    Shush! Are you a racist or something? You're blowing the "plan" with your reasonable questions.

  • ohmygosh Sep 23, 2009

    Beware of anything with a ten year payback period. 20% of the population won't live to see it.

    Replace the batteries once and the payback period moves outward even further. Maybe there are super batteries these days, but I've had nothing but bad experience with many types of rechargable storage batteries.

    Nobody is talking about service costs. Unless you have the skills necessary to keep it going, there are going to be a significant number of expensive service calls.

  • howdiditgettothis Sep 22, 2009

    Thanks for the positive story about alternative power sources.

    I would love to be able to use this type of energy source.

    If someone in the utilities department would set this up, they would be the winners in the long run.