RALEIGH, N.C. – Solar energy in North Carolina is growing in popularity, and one Winston-Salem-based solar panel installation company has received recognition for its work to raise awareness of climate change and renewable energy.
Jeff Redwine, co-owner of Renewable Energy Design Group, was honored at a gathering of climate advocates in Charlotte organized by Clean Air Carolina. Redwine said many people might overlook the link between solar and clean air.
“Even small-scale solar is making a great impact with the quality of air,” Redwine said. “When you think about distributed generation, the solar panels on my rooftop are producing that energy, I’m using that in my home, and then that’s going out into grid and actually feeding my neighbor’s home.”
He added that any reduction in the use of fossil fuels that pollute the air can help North Carolinians breathe easier. For the past few years, Renewable Energy Design Group and Clean Air Carolina have worked together to reduce the cost of solar panels and educate communities about the benefits of clean energy through solar home tours and other events.
Redwine has been installing solar panels since 2008. He said he first became interested in solar energy working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central America.
“We were able to work with a group and actually put solar on the school and some of the homes within the village,” he said.
North Carolina’s solar energy industry is booming. Redwine pointed out the state ranks second only to California in use of solar power.
“There’s a not a whole lot of things that are equal to solar in my mind that you can do to one: make a solid financial return; but two: make a solid investment in our climate, working to create clean energy,” he said.
According to the latest data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, prices for solar installations have fallen by nearly 35% over the past five years, and currently more than 600,000 homeowners in the state have installed solar panels.