Floods, fires, hurricanes and tornados can claim lives and destroy property without reason or warning.  Humanity’s response however can be deliberate and environmentally responsible.  Don Foot’s Elk River cabin is a great example of how a natural disaster can be turned into an environmental benefit.

Don’s 600-square-foot cabin had been in his family for generations.  It had also been flooded more than a dozen times and Don knew that someday a big storm would wipe the place out.  In 2003, Hurricane Isabel proved him right.

Don elected to rebuild the cabin with the slope of the roof facing west so his home would be a candidate for a solar installation. “When I designed the house,” Don said, “I thought solar would be the wave of the future. I felt as though it was just the way to go.

As federal tax credit programs began to kick in, Don saw his opportunity and grabbed it. “With the incentives for 2010 and an on-paper payback calculation of six years from now, the decision was easy,” Don said.

After finding Standard Solar through an Internet search, Don found the company’s professionalism, references and presentation impressive enough to immediately select them for the job. “For me, it was almost a no brainer,” he said.

Standard Solar installed Don’s nearly 6kW system in August 2010. The most exhilarating part of the installation was the 95-degree day when the panels first came online.  The panels immediately began turning his power meter backwards despite the load of the air conditioning units working against the mid-day heat.  “I was generating power plus I was putting power back on the grid, so it was really exciting to see that,” Don recalled.

Don’s cost savings began almost immediately. Before going solar, Don’s average monthly electric bill was $150.  In November 2010 his electric bill was $14; it was $10 in October. Between his lower electric bills and solar renewable energy certificates, Don estimates he will reclaim about $3,500 annually.

For Don, the money he is saving has been the highlight of his solar experience: “My electric bill is at $10… I’m generating my own power, providing power to the grid and – in the long run – I’m going to be an energy producer and make money on the deal,” Don said.