Paul & Lynn – Richmond, VA

By Solar United Neighbors on June 27, 2024

I feel really good about it. It’s a little bit of something we can do for the environment

Paul & Lynn – Richmond, VA 

This Solar Story was transcribed from a live interview

Why did you decide to go solar? 

Well, I’m really worried about climate change. I have a background in natural resource management. I did Peace Corps back in the 70s, and then desertification was a thing. I know ecosystems can change because of what we do to them, and climate change has me really worried, because I see a lot of real trouble. 

What was the process like for you with going solar?

I went to a meeting SUN had. People were talking about their experience and all that. I had gotten an estimate from a solar installer, but the estimate from SUN for the solar co-op was cheaper. I just really liked the idea of the co-op. I have sort of a dual career path; one is in spirituality, one is in natural resource management. The spiritual side of me feels the importance of community and working together, so I really like the idea of the co-op. I think it’s really important. I know that there are environmental challenges of using solar panels, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. 

How was your experience with the co-op? 

I liked going through the co-op. The company that was chosen was a veteran-owned business. I thought that was nice, to support the veterans. Even though I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I have done a lot of work with veterans with PTSD and helping them go through addictions and all that stuff, so I thought it was nice to support the veterans with our solar installation. 

Did you have any other challenges with the co-op process?

It went really well. We did have a leak when they put the stuff on the roof, but we figured out it was some tar that was around the vent boot that came loose from the band, and the installers redid it and fixed it. 

Since going solar, have you noticed any of your habits changing?

Since installing the panels we sort of electrified more. We put a mini-splint in our basement. It works really well, it’s really efficient. Then our HVAC system blew out about ten years after we moved in and we put in a more energy efficient system that worked down to even lower temperatures than our previous one. Now we only use our oil heat for maybe a week or two during the winter, otherwise it’s all electric. I want to put in more panels as we keep electrifying. Eventually, I’ll get rid of my beloved manual transmission car. There are so many options now with EVs, which is great. I just wish they had manual transmissions. I just love going through the gears. 

Have you seen any electricity savings since going solar?

Well, certainly. I pay next to nothing on my electric bill, so those savings are going back into the money I put down for the panels. I feel good about the whole process because the system’s going to end up paying for itself within 10 years or less. I think that’s pretty good. Plus, the installer got me into SRECs, which wasn’t an option when I installed the first system, so that shortens the investment period even more. 

Have you been involved in any solar advocacy since becoming a solar owner? 

Oh, I talk about it to everybody. I put it on Facebook. I take pictures of my electric bill and talk about how many tons of carbon I’ve kept from going into the atmosphere and all that kind of stuff. 

At the time of this interview, Paul and Lynn have offset over 70,000 kilograms of carbon with their solar system. 

Is there any advice you would give to someone who is considering going solar? 

Do it. It’s almost foolish not to do it. For anybody, even if you’re retiring, it’s a worthwhile thing to do . We’re very happy with it. 

Is there any peace of mind or comfort that you get from the fact that you produce your own energy?

I feel really good about it. It’s a little bit of something we can do for the environment. I worked oversees for a number of years. I was in Africa, Lynn was in the Philippines. We saw that our comfort level with electricity is creating huge problems for people who can least afford it. We had a sister parish down in Guatemala, and they can’t grow coffee there anymore because it’s gotten too hot. I think it’s important to take action to help these communities around the world. I see it as the right thing to do for the rest of the world. It’s just the right thing to do, morally.