After much discussion and planning to
participate in the alternative energy movement, mostly spurred on by
2020 and 2025 Federal/State Energy Directives, we were referred to Rob
Martens and Bold Alternatives, located at 26210 Emery Road, Cleveland,
Ohio 44128. On the cold snowy morning of Friday, December 11, 2010, Rob
brought us back a zoning permit so that we could install 11.4 kw solar
panels behind our house. Undertaking of this project would be the
realization of a long-discussed plan.
The biggest problem was all
the trees on our wooded three acres. A friend on Munn Road, Carl
Schneider, set to work immediately to help us cut down the most
problematic of the trees. Sixteen needed to be cut down immediately.
Starting in December and extending into the whole month of January, Carl
and Tom cut down trees and then cut the downed logs into
small logs about
18 inches long, just right for burning in fireplaces.
There were a
lot of days with a lot of snow. Stacking logs in neat piles, sometimes
unwittingly in snow drifts, created a lot of sweat. Even so, though we
were tired from all the exercise and fresh air, we didn't lose as much
weight as we had hoped we might.
As it turned out, our solar array
was the first building permit issued in 2011 in Geauga County.
Monday, February 14, 2011, the crew showed up about 8:30 a.m. By 9:30 they
were drilling holes into the cleared ground behind our house with the
augur. The zoning
inspector showed up about 10:30 and measured to make
sure that the holes for the support beams were no closer than 15 feet from
the property line. They weren't. He said it was okay to proceed and left.
Sidley Concrete showed up at 2:30 p.m. And fastened the
very first panel to the ground by means of poured concrete. It was a wet
and cold day, but we were off to a good start on a bleak February day.
Tuesday, February 15, dawned and Thompson Electric and Bold
Alternatives showed up about 8:30 a.m. They started digging the holes for
the support poles for the closer
set of solar panels. By about noon, the
entire framework for the second array was in place. This seemed like
pretty quick work.
Rob Martens, President of Bold Alternatives.
Came in to look at the site. We thanked him for his effortless work with
the zoning inspector.
On Wednesday, February 16, the first worker
arrived at 8:30. The rest of the crew, from Thompson Electric, arrived at
9:30. We were gone for a couple of hours, but when we returned about 1
pm., the trench had already been dug to bury electric cables. Mr.
Thompson, the president of Thompson Electric, was so polite when he came
into our house that he put on footies over his boots to protect our
floors. That was very special courtesy. By the end of the day four of the
twelve supports had been installed. The trench was covered up again in
dirt by the end of the day. The crew installed metal
braces on top of both
arrays. By the end of the day, snow was thawing and there was mud and
slime all over. It was pretty yucky, to be sure.
engineer, wound up with a scrape on his forehead. Fortunately, it was a
minor bruise, and all was okay/ The wind was very sharp, an ideal
wind-turbine kind of day at the farm, but very calm at the house, which is
located on lower ground. One entire solar panel, composed of four
sections, was positioned into place on the taller framework.
brightly-colored Bold Alternatives trailer was parked in our driveway/ It
seemed to provide great exposure for the company. The trailer was the size
of a two-horse trailer and at least parked in a dry portion of our parcel,
as opposed to the mud, slime, and wet everywhere else. Just inspecting the
site of the two solar arrays was enough to cause us to break through thin
ice several times and soak our boots.
Mike and Phil have told us
that the two sets of solar panels will survive wind gusts up to hurricane
Ice storms overnight Sunday/Monday February 20-21 brought
down a tree very close to the Bold Alternatives trailer and made working
on the project impossible. When the crew returned to the site at 8:30 a.m.
on February 23, there were ten inches of snow on the ground. We took lots
of pictures of the panels under ice. The Sound of Ideas, a morning
presentation of Radio Station WCPN 90.3 FM. presented an update about
alternative energy. A participant from Beta Energy. Johm Brodner, reported
this morning, 87 % of the people want clean energy.
February 24, all 48 solar panels were in place and tilted. Hoorah!
Nevertheless, a shortage of some hardware has made it necessary for Bold
Alternatives to place a back-order.
On March 11 the crew showed up
again and straightened out the panels. The back-ordered cable and
inverters were not yet on hand.
On March 23 the cables and
inverters were installed. Roger from Thompson Eletric arranged for the
Geauga County electrical inspection from Steve Roth on Friday, February
25. When the 25th arrived, cold and clear, Phil, Mike, and Roger were
on-hand all day. Roger called at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., only to learn at 3
p.m. that the inspection would not occur today after all. Without our
knowledge, Steve Roth apparently showed up about 4:45 to find the crew
gone and left a note requesting rescheduling, even though the Chardon
secretary had told the crew no one needed to be present for the inspection
to occur. This episode was probably the most problematic experience in the
installation of the panels and certainly not the fault of the crew or the
company, who were above-board and honest about everything they did.
On March 28 Phil, Mike, and Roger were on site. Roger rescheduled the
Geauga County electrical inspection for Friday, April 1. Inspector Roth
showed up at 10 a.m. April 1. He approved the project on the spot. On the
same day the First Energy Net Metering Agreement was approved as well.
On April 22 we learned that our March electric bill from First Energy
had been reduced by $20 as a result of the solar panels.
August 31, 2011, we have not had an electric bill at our house. We fully
expect that with the Investment Tax Credit in place for installation of
alternative energy projects, our solar panels will pay for themselves
within five years.
Undertaking this project has been the right
thing to do morally and ethically with financial incentives that make
solar panels practical and convenient!