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Sunshine Brings Savings To Lake Gaston Couple

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LAKE GASTON, N.C. — Bob and Jean Wilson's Lake Gaston house looks at first like a typical waterfront property, but a closer look at the roof shows that it's not the usual lake house.

The Wilsons are among the first in this rural area of Warren County to convert to energy from the sun. It's an alternative to a steep monthly utility bill of nearly $300.

"By tonight, we'll be heating the hot water off the sun," said Jean Wilson. "And this has been a dream since the 1970s, over 30 years. And it was a thrill to see them put the last two photovoltaic panels up."

Thirty years ago, there was a nationwide shortage of gasoline.

"We had our warning in the 1970s, we didn't do anything about it. And now it is coming back to haunt us," said electrical contractor Bill Poteat.

With the prediction of even higher energy prices in the future, advocates of alternative energy sources like solar power said it lessens the country's dependence on foreign oil.

"To start with, I was kind of a stick in the mud. I wasn't too sold on it until I really started evaluating the benefits of it," said Bob Wilson.

The Wilsons, who are in their 70s, said their home and their $58,000 investment in a solar energy system will be passed down to their grandchildren.

"But the main thing is, that's one more person who is going to demand less oil from the Middle East," said Jean Wilson.

With their solar electric house, the Wilsons can sell their surplus power to the North Carolina Greenpower program. It's a program that purchases power generated from alternative sources of energy like the sun, the wind and water.


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