Tom Bullock predicts a revolution is on the horizon for how home-owners get electricity. The evidence sits on the Lakewood resident’s roof. The father of two installed solar panels through the Cuyahoga County Solar Co-op, which pools potential customers so they can pay in bulk for panels. The co-op cuts the potential cost by up to 20 percent per installation on systems that can cost up to $31,500. The panels, which turn the sun’s rays into electricity, are a big win in a battle with rising energy costs. We ask Bullock about his panels and the environment.
Q: How have the panels impacted your energy usage?
A: On the first full month [having the panels] our electricity went down to the minimum payment: $4.17. That’s a fee the utility charges you to be hooked up to the grid. I’m driving a Chevy Bolt all-electric vehicle. So when I plug in this car, it can charge on sunlight. It’s not science fiction.
Q: Is there a lot of maintenance?
A: Once it’s installed, you shouldn’t think about it anymore than you think about your hot water. They just sit there. There’s not a moving part or anything like that. Every six years you probably want to get a window cleaner to clean off the dust — to make sure you’re not losing a little bit of electrical performance. We even had a windy, dusty day and I was a little nervous, but they didn’t blow away.
Q: Why should Clevelanders consider solar?
A: It’s time to pay attention to the world we’re handing our kids. Just like we were taught in kindergarten, we clean up our own messes. We’ve built our city on industry, now it’s time for us to be responsible. This summer is the 48th anniversary of the [Cuyahoga] River burning. So by year 50, we want to have a lot of progress to show.