Solar energy expert visits "famously hot" Columbia - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Solar energy expert visits "famously hot" Columbia

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A nationally recognized expert in solar energy is holding a workshop in South Carolina's capital city.

Officials say John Wiles is at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Tuesday to conduct a seminar on solar power systems.

Wiles is program manager at the Southwest Technology Development Institute at New Mexico State University. Organizers say he and his wife have been living in a wind-powered home with full battery backup power for 16 years.

Wiles was in town to talk about the National Electrical Code, specifically the part that deals with installing solar systems. "If we as individuals start investing in solar electricity, photovoltaics in our houses, we can act locally, and affect globally things that are going on," Wiles said.

"We have to take control of our own destiny of our own energy future," said Bruce Wood, who has been a solar supporter since the 70's.
     
He's the head of the South Carolina Solar Council and runs Sunstore Solar. "At this point from a technological standpoint, solar's really ready to save the world," Wood said. "It's just a matter of finding the right applications and making the economy work."
     
Wood says the solar array that will soon be on the roof of the Columbia Museum of Art, and another at Claflin University, are indicators that solar power is becoming increasingly popular and viable in South Carolina. "The same panel that use to make 150 watts can now make upwards of 300 watts, so we're seeing a lot more efficiency and power out of it," said Wood.
     
The results and savings vary from place to place, but in Wiles' case, "My meter is running backwards, and I get a $150 check a month from my utility company."
     
An interesting possibility, and a savings that you don't need an electrical degree to understand.

Sessions at the seminar for electricians, inspectors and contractors include information on how to design and install solar systems.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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