A combination of federal and state tax credits, plummeting equipment prices and an environmentally savvy population has led to a dramatic increase in the number of Wilmington rooftops outfitted with solar panels, according to local installers.
From 2008 to 2010, Wilmington-based Cape Fear Solar Systems outfitted approximately 17 homes with solar panels; from 2010 to 2012, that number jumped to 51, a 200 percent increase, said Linda Hanykova, a spokeswoman for the company. Solar Star Energy Corp., also located in the Port City, saw its solar panel installation business nearly double in the same time period, according to Gary LeBer, general manager.
"It's partly because of the rising cost of electricity. People are becoming more aware of the potential to be energy-independent," he said. "Equipment prices have come down over the years. It's still a sizable investment, but as long as the tax credits are there to offset, they'll pay for themselves in anywhere from seven to eight years."