I’ve wanted solar panels as my source of clean energy for a long time. Over the past few years, I’ve made many lifestyle changes to live more gently on the Earth, but I was bothered by the fact that I still used coal-generated electricity. As I watched the climate crisis worsen, my desire for solar increased exponentially.
Although I live in a fairly wooded area, I noticed that part of my roof receives a great deal of sun. So I called a national solar company to inquire about solar installation. After looking at my property on Google Earth, they said solar was impossible for my house due to the many trees in my area. “But, I protested, I receive a lot of sun on a portion of my roof. “ “Sorry, it’s a no go” was the reply. Never one to give up easily, I contacted another solar company and was told the same thing. Then I called the first company back and begged them to come out and take an actual look at my property. They reluctantly agreed to do so.
After an evaluation of my situation, the sales person told me there was one area on my property where solar could be installed on the ground—if I would take down two huge poplar trees. No way would I sacrifice two healthy trees, so I said no. I also would have had to tolerate the digging of a one hundred and fifty foot long trench from the panels to the house for the electric hookup, which would most likely need to go right through my veggie garden and my flagstone walkway. I guess you know what I said to that.
Next, I called a third company and was told the same sad story of how my area had too many trees for solar. I also begged them to come out and evaluate my property in person rather than making a decision from Google map. The third company gave me the same opinion as the first company—remove two trees and opt for a ground installation. I said no again.
Discouraged, I opted for 100% wind power from Community Energy, a local PA wind company that teamed up with PECO. I concluded that was the best option, since it seemed impossible for me to have solar. A few years went by until I again felt a great desire for solar as I heard about the melting of the polar ice caps and the rapidly worsening climate situation. I also knew from my extensive research that rooftop solar was so much better in so many ways than centralized solar power.
I was bemoaning my situation to a friend, when he said, “Try Open Sky Energy—what do you have to lose by asking? Open Sky Energy is the local solar company, based in Swarthmore, that installed solar panels for Media Friends School and the Media Library.”
I called Open Sky and scheduled a meeting, hoping beyond hope that they would tell me a different story than what I’d heard in the past. I was happy to learn that Open Sky Energy is an owner-operated company. The two owners, Joe Coyle and Michael Matotek, handle sales, installation and service. (The other three companies I had contacted sent sales reps to speak to me about solar, who were definitely not as knowledgeable as Joe and Michael.)
After Joe and Michael thoroughly evaluated my situation, their response was, “Of course you can have solar on your roof!” They patiently, competently and thoroughly answered my three pages of questions and concerns during the initial meeting and over the course of two more meetings. Finally convinced, I signed a contract for the installation of a 7.5 kW hour solar system consisting of 30 panels, which would produce 95% of my electricity needs.
Installation took a little over a week and was slowed only by one afternoon of rain. My solar system is now up and running. Ask me how happy I am!!!
Not only do I receive 95% of my electricity from my panels, I also receive one credit for each kW hour of energy I produce. The credits are called SRECS (Solar Renewable Energy Credit). I can sell my credits to companies that are required by law to purchase renewable energy credits. (PA requires electricity suppliers such as PECO to secure a portion of their electricity from solar generators.)
After the installation, Joe set up my online SREC reporting system. Joe also set up my online Enphase system, which monitors the performance of my panels. The micro-inverters attached to each of my solar panels transmit information about how my system is performing, which allows me (and Joe) to monitor my system. I can see exactly what my panels are producing at all times. I was surprised to see that the panels start producing at sunrise and continue producing till sunset, peaking between 10 AM and 3 PM.
I will be forever grateful to my friend Robin for suggesting Open Sky Energy. Joe and Michael pay meticulous attention to detail and are knowledgeable, professional, competent, personable and considerate. I admire that kind of work ethic. And they are as passionate about solar energy as I am. In addition to installing solar panels, they work for legislation favorable to the advance of solar power in our state and have spoken to PA state legislators and the governor about solar legislation.
I do hope that my experience will pique your interest in solar and perhaps encourage you to consider rooftop solar for your home.