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NECA/IBEW Solar Installation Featured on American Woodshop
The United States is the newest member of the 10-gigawatt club for solar power along with Germany, Italy and China.

By the end of 2014, that number is only expected to grow – some estimates say by as much as 80 percent.

A record 1.8 gigawatts of new solar power capacity was installed during this first half of 2013, a small portion of that including one done on a house/woodshop/ television studio in rural Ohio.

If the name Scott Phillips rings a bell, it should. He’s the host of the American Woodshop, a show in its 20th season on PBS, with more than 300 episodes teaching do-it-yourselfers how to use everything from a table saw to building architectural wooden accents.

The American Woodshop teaches viewers how to do all that and more.

Scott Phillips – American Woodshop, PBS
“First thing is, I love to work with my hands. I’m not happy if I’m not working with my hands. There are a bunch of different ways to be green, but in the American Woodshop we like to recycle wood, too. There’s nothing like building a piece of furniture out of wood that would have been burned or thrown away.”

As mentioned, this is a working woodshop and also a television studio – so double the electricity usage and double the utility cost.

And it is how Scott Phillips solved this problem that sets a shining example of the widespread potential of solar power.

Scott Phillips – American Woodshop, PBS
“When you write those monthly checks, and they just keep going up, and they add those special charges they say, ‘No, we didn’t increase your rates.’ But now you’re paying an amp charge, and a kilowatt-hour tax charge, and before long you start looking for alternatives. I started researching it with Snyder Electric and then it snowballed with Local 8.”

Bob Hittle – Project Manager, Romanoff Electric/IBEW Local 8
“There’s one single 5,000-watt inverter on the north side with an AC disconnect over there tying into the house panel. This is a pretty small installation. It’s only got 14 modules all seriesed together. One string, one circuit – we call them a string.”

Scott Phillips – American Woodshop, PBS
“I’m going to cut my utility bill by at least another 30 percent.”
The job, as mentioned, is small by comparison. Take, for example, the Washington Redskins solar project at FedEx Field, or the Toledo Zoo solar ‘snake’ – both done by the NECA/IBEW team and chronicled here on ETV.

No matter the size or shape, no matter if you’re a homeowner, a municipality or a building owner, solar just makes sense. And NECA/IBEW is your labor management team.

Scott Phillips – American Woodshop, PBS
“The guys at Romanoff Electric were pros all the way. Did everything with Local 8 installers, electricians trained pros. Never saw the first thing that was unprofessional. They always used the proper safety gear. I know all your people are trained to do that because it only takes one misstep to lead to an accident.”

Bob Hittle – Project Manager, Romanoff Electric/IBEW Local 8
“It’s electricity. You need to do it right every time. The entire process has to go as planned. We have engineered drawings, but we are professional electricians also. As you can see, right now though, we have all of our safety scaffolding. We’ve got safety warnings up at the ridge of the roof to make sure the guys don’t go over. We have an anchor point on the other side to tie off their rope grabs and their harnesses so they don’t fall off the roof. We’re probably going a little bit overboard, but this is what we do every day and we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Scott Phillips – American Woodshop, PBS
“No matter where you live in America, even on cloudy days you generate power on a photovoltaic array. It’s not as much, but you’re still saving money. This is something that people should be embracing and doing. I’m fired up because when I’m saving money, that means I get to spend more money on my tools, which gives me more capacity as a woodworker.”

That’s all for this edition. Thanks to Scott Phillips and to the American Woodshop for their help with this story.

We invite you to check out the show if you haven’t done so already. It is currently airing its 20th season on PBS in 413 markets in the US and Canada. Or you can log onto for entire show archives and more.