Retired Shell Oil Engineer Goes Solar | The Hale Residence

Reading time: 3 minutes 05/24/2023 News, Testimonials*

Meet the David Hale! When he retired from Shell Oil Company after 35 years as an engineer, Mr. Hale knew he wanted his forever home in Landfall to be net-zero with solar panels on the back. Now, he has not only accomplished his carbon neutral goal, but plans to take it a step further with an electric vehicle. His new goal? To help others take advantage of the numerous benefits solar has to offer.


Video Transcript:

“Hi, my name is David Hale. I live here in Landfall in Wilmington, NC. I live here with my wife Patty Sue and my chocolate lab Bella. I just retired from Shell Oil Company after 35 years of service. Shell had basically started to morph from an oil-and-gas company to an energy company and set a goal to be net-zero by 2050. So, with that mantra, I just continued that in my retirement and we embodied that when we built the house.

A couple of reasons I would recommend solar:

  1. With climate change and the crazy weather we’re experiencing throughout the county, I think anything we can do to improve the climate for our kids and our grandkids and our future generations–that would be a good thing.
  2. The reduction in the use of fossil fuels to curb our carbon emissions would be a good thing as well.
  3. Sun power is free–why not use it to the best of your ability?

I chose Cape Fear Solar Systems because I like to buy locally and support the community. I did get four proposals, but those other three were out-of-state and they also used third party contractors who were also out-of-state. So, I had a concern with respect to service after the sale in case I had a reliability or mechanical issue that needed to be resolved. And my experience dealing with Cape Fear Solar was basically dealing with Gabe Amey, the Sales Manager. He was very knowledgeable about solar systems, very customer-focused, and very patient with me–because I’m an engineer and I ask a lot of detailed questions. So, he helped me get through a lot of detailed questions and answered everything I had of issues, concerns, what technology to use… My relationship with Cape Fear Solar after the initial installation has been very good. There were a couple of punch-list items that were knocked out very quickly. And there’s been a lot of inquiries about how the Duke Energy business model works, as well as questions on the Enphase software system that we use to monitor the system. And all of the inquiries have been handled very promptly and to my satisfaction.

I would recommend Cape Fear Solar to someone else, whether it’s a friend, family member, or just an acquaintance for the following reasons:

  1. They’re a local company and it’s good to support local community businesses-small businesses especially
  2. They’re very customer-focused
  3. They use high quality products
  4. They handle all the regulatory paperwork end-to-end, so it’s a very seamless implementation

As a homeowner, you really just have to basically pay the bill and schedule when your installation is going to be–it’s very easy. Basically, I achieved my goal of being net-zero in this house, so the only thing I pay Duke Energy at this point in time is the $16.50 hookup fee in case I need power from the grid. And I’ve been off the grid basically since October and I’ve only paid $16.50 a month.

The payback period is approximately 10 years. We plan to buy an EV–a hybrid to be specific. And once we do that, we won’t be paying for gasoline. So assuming an average of 3% in Duke power increase per year and assuming $3.50/gallon of gasoline, we believe we can achieve breakeven in 5.

I would give the following advice to people who were on the fence with respect to installing a solar system:

  1. As I indicated before, Cape Fear handles all of the regulatory paperwork with Landfall, with Duke, with New Hanover County.
  2. You would basically have good peace of mind because you would not be subject to any Duke Power increases in the cost of electricity–and they’ve averaged 3%/year over the last decade. And this year I believe it was a 6-10% increase, depending on if you were a Duke Power or Duke Energy Progress.
  3. Lastly, again it’s environmentally-friendly and a good thing to do.

There’s a quote from John Cougar Mellencamp in his song The Peaceful World, ‘It’s what you do, not what you say. If you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way,’ and I kind of like that.”

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