Cove veteran, 88, receives home solar array
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Lester Horton, 88, tries to recycle and no longer drinks bottled water because he said he doesn’t like the idea of using enough plastic bottles to stretch to the moon and back.
Last Wednesday, the 20-year veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam War eras went a step further in “green” living when he had solar panels installed on his home.
Horton said he initially contacted one company, not in this area, and received a quote of around $25,000 for a solar array. That made him pause, and he thought he might be able to get a better deal if he called around locally.
That’s when Solar CenTex, based in Harker Heights, entered the picture.
“We started talking and I told Mr. Horton right away that we could do better for him,” said Scott Arey, owner of Solar Centex. “At first, I didn’t know his age and I didn’t know he was a veteran, but we wanted to get him what he wanted without a financial burden in his later years. We meet a lot of older individuals who simply just want solar.
“The more we talked, I realized I wanted to do better than just give him a good deal.”
To Horton’s surprise, Arey offered to install the approximately $15,000 solar array at no cost to Horton.
“I never expected anything like this,” Horton said. “I just know I wanted solar, because it’s the way to go. I have a grandson who went geothermal, and I thought, it’s time I do something. But I was shocked by this and I’d like to do something for them.”
A native of Tennessee, Horton has lived in Copperas Cove for two years and came to Copperas Cove after his wife passed way. He moved closer to his daughter and son-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Horton left his Tennessee town in 1948 at the age of 18 and served 20 years in the United States Air Force, then went on to work for the IRS, then owned an antiques shop for 20 years before his retiring a third time.
Arey said Solar CenTex typically does installations like at Horton’s home within one day. On Wednesday afternoon, he showed Horton the meter registering solar power now flowing into his home and that the meter would start turning backwards. Arey said it takes about eight years for home owners to see a positive return on their investment in solar, yet the cost of financing a system is less than the savings the system reaps for the homeowner.
Horton received a grid-tied system, but Arey said there are also systems available with battery backups that store solar power to enable a homeowner to be off-grid in case of an outage.
Horton is already looking forward to the day when his own electric bill will “zero” out.
“I can’t thank them enough; I’m shocked that this has happened to me,” Horton said.