Solar sensation in Hampton Roads

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Two men walked back and forth on the roof of a two-story house nestled in the trees near Shore Drive. The men drill away, their work about halfway complete.

"We've got a 28 panel solar install here," said Chad Wilkins, the owner of Convert Solar.

The house belongs to the Lindsey family. When the family of four moved in two years ago, they started making plans to be green and reduce their carbon footprint.

"It's one of the first upgrades we wanted to make to the house," said Angela Lindsey.

The popularity of solar panels in Hampton Roads is growing. The city of Virginia Beach has approved more than 100 permits so far.

"We are a lot busier than we've ever been. We're doing one to two jobs a week and we've got them booked out as far as we can see," said Wilkins.

One of the biggest incentives is the net meter a power company puts in. That means any extra electricity made during the day goes to the meter and the homeowner receives full retail credit for it. That energy can be used at night or on cloudy days or roll over from month to month.

"You basically get a break even after about nine years, after that it's all truly free energy after that. So the return on investment made it a no-brainer," said Michael Lindsey.

Also, with severe weather in Hampton Roads, homeowners can also buy a storage system and save their energy for a rainy day. Michael said that was a big part in him and his wife looking into solar.

"So if the grid is down or a hurricane comes through and all the power lines are out then you always have some backup power you can use day after day," said Wilkins.

Wilkins believes one of the biggest reasons for the solar sensation is the dramatic drop in prices. He said it's about 50 percent in the past few years, which makes it more affordable and a quicker return on investment.

There is a program called VA Sun, which works to expand solar awareness and allows members to save money on installs by purchasing at a group.