A Historic District’s Solar Transformation

A historic neighborhood in Augusta, GA is embracing solar power thanks to one homeowner named Sheila Stahl. Learn how she is paving the way & promoting solar!


 decided to have 16 installed on the roof of her carport, something her husband did not know about until he came home one day and discovered a trench between the house and carport. Apparently, he referred to the  modification as a gift that will keep giving.  

Back in March, Stahl started her search for a company that would be able to build this solar system. Her Certificate of Appropriateness was approved the following month to install the panels in a historic district.  

Last year, Stahl purchased a Tesla EV and would charge the all-electric vehicle in her carport. She wanted to take things a step further and charge it using the sun – she wanted to go solar. 

Tesla does install solar systems, but not in the area she needed, so she found Alder Systems based in Charleston, South Carolina. Alder installed the panels as well as a monitor that shares how said panels are doing in terms of energy collection.  

 is going to set up a new meter, too. The solar system just needs final approval from the city of and Power. Now, on bright days when the sun is out, they would be absorbing if turned on, as per Stahl.  

Making Solar Work in a Historic District 

Stahl’s residential solar system is unusual for Augusta. Why? Being a historic district, preservation groups can look down on such panels which could modify views. In Stahl’s case, the solar panels are on a rear-facing roof, so there is less if any concern.  

Senior planner with Augusta Planning and Development Department, has gone through proposals for solar farms for Augusta, but over the last three years had not seen a residential solar application.  

Georgia Power offers flat-rate billing, something Stahl wants to take her family off of – it bills an annual average every month, but Stahl’s bill will drop significantly once her clean energy-focused system is live.  

Solar Savings 

Here’s how things will look when she starts to use her solar power – in 2018 she used almost 13,800 paid kilowatt-hours. The value of this is just under $760. But the paid use is going to decrease to just over 7,850 kilowatt-hours, which translates to just over $325.  

Stahl paid roughly $19,780 for her solar system because of a tax credit – had she been in SC, she would have received additional credits.  

Under Georgia’s net metering, it will take up to 15 years for the solar system to pay for itself, as per the director of residential solar for Alder, Benny Mosiman. Georgia’s net metering lowers billed usage in accordance with solar production.  

Net metering in Georgia, rather than being dollar for dollar, reimburses customers less for solar than they would have spent per kilowatt-hour. But just recently, a change was approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission regarding its solar rate structure, which will enable the first 5,000 customers to receive a credit for slightly more for their solar production, as per Mosiman. A new net metering rate schedule is going to start this year, in 2020.  

Solar-friendly homes can see their value increase on average by 3 percent.  

Of course, in California, new homes are going to be required to have solar panels in 2020. And like California, southern states have promising weather conditions for solar power. While Georgia is ahead of the game when it comes to large-scale solar (for instance, solar panel farms), it has work to do when it comes to small scale projects (such as residential).    

Stahl hopes others will be encouraged to take advantage of clean energy in , Augusta.  Knowing it saves money in the long run is yet another perk to switching to solar power. Keep following solar news because there are always interesting changes being made across the globe – even in historic places!  





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