Behind every great installation, there's a good story -- meet Mari and Jerry. Mari Sorri and Jerry Gill installed a 3 kW solar electric (PV) system on their home located in Vail, in 2009. After moving from Oro Valley, they purchased a plot of land and built their home. To these self proclaimed “Earth lovers," they felt it was important to disturb the land as little as possible.
Also, for Mari and Jerry conservation is a daily reality. Mari explains, “We live on our own well, and share it with 12 other households, so water becomes a real issue. We only use water for our small garden, and a few potted plants. We try to live as unobtrusively as possible, and solar fits in with this philosophy.”
Mari, who’s originally from Finland and came here for the sun, was the initial driving force behind the plan to go solar. She explains, "Solar in Arizona is a 'no brainer'. We hardly ever see a cloudy day, so it seemed that if we could possibly manage it, we should do it. To me, the cost was like buying a small car, but unlike a car, solar pays for itself after a few years and offsets your electricity bills for the next 25 years.”
Jerry laughs when he admits that he didn't think solar was a possibility for them at first. He smiles when he says, "I thought Mari was nuts." However, after running the numbers, Mari and Jerry saw that it was not only a possibility, it was a smart financial investment. Jerry adds, "We now have a 3 kW system and that covers our electricity usage. We are planning on getting an electric car, and we’ll charge it with our PV system. We produce so much electricity, we’ll never have to pay for gas.”
Mari explains the steps she took to find the right solar installer, “I attended 3 or 4 presentations by solar installers at Academy Village, and it didn’t take long to figure out who TFS was. It was such a clear choice to go with TFS. I found out that TFS has a grant program where they donate a solar system to non-profits, and a friend of mine told me that TFS also commutes to their installations by bicycle, I thought ‘wow, they really walk the talk’. Then Kevin from TFS came to our house for a site visit, he was so sensitive to our questions and very articulate. He can translate solar into a language that’s really easy to understand. He listens to your questions, to make sure he understands what you’re asking, without going into a sales pitch. It was a wonderful conversation and we were impressed."
Mari, a multi-faceted artist, enjoys making beautiful pottery and is proud of the fact that their solar electric system offsets the high electricity usage that comes with operating her kiln. To Mari, it feels good to know that she can create solar powered pottery.
Jerry stays quite busy playing basketball whenever possible, sculpting, and working as a professor of environmental ethics at Pima Community College. At the end of the semester, Jerry’s students take a field trip to his home, where he shows them how to live more sustainably. “I look at our home as a demo site to show others how it can be done, simply,” Jerry says.
Mari and Jerry agree that there is one piece of advice they would offer others who were considering going solar, “Just do it. It’s easy to want to do it, and hope to do it in the future, but until you make the intention and put it on your calendar, it will never happen. Make an appointment with yourself and just get the ball rolling, you’ll be so happy that you did.”