Sugar Hollow Solar, Asheville, NC

About Us


   Who We Are       Team       Qualifications       Roots       News

Who We Are


One of the area’s most reputable renewable energy companies.


Sugar Hollow Solar has earned a reputation for consistently providing clients with high quality renewable energy systems.

We’ve earned this reputation by following a philosophy that simply won’t let us cut corners.

Our team has over 75 years of combined experience helping residences, businesses, and government go solar.

Our office and shop is located just outside of Asheville in Fairview, NC.


The Team


Graham Horne: Project Manager / Solar Craftsman

Charlie Nimitz: Crew Leader / Solar Craftsman

Chad Colwell: Project Manager / Solar Craftsman

Chavo Krenek: Operations Manager / Solar Craftsman

Lora Paine: Solar Specialist

Cameron Donnell: Utility Relationship Manager / Permit Manager / System Designer

Phelps Clarke: Managing Partner / Sales Manager / Solar Craftsman

Susan Holland: Solar Specialist

Arthur Dougherty: Service Manager, Solar Craftsman

Gracia O’Neill: Energy Efficiency Manager

Ben Yoke: Sales & Design

Douglas Ager: Managing Partner / Business Development

Kevin Foy: Project Manager / Solar Craftsman

Shayne Peninger: Shop and Fleet Manager / Solar Craftsman



NC Electrical License #31324-I

NC General Contractor License #74015

SC Electrical License #M113905

SC General Contractor License #G119816

Mechanical Contractor License #30384

NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional #101913-002550

BPI Certified

OSHA Certified

Living Wage Certified

We’re also members of the WNC Green Building Council (WNCGBC), the North Carolina Sustainability Energy Association (NCSEA), and the Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA).



Co-founders Phelps Clarke and Douglas Ager are cousins who grew up at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC. When they were younger, they spent a lot of time exploring the creeks and forests of their great-grandparents land and worked on the farm as part of the 4th generation living there.

Growing up steeped in the beauty of the landscape gave them a sense of its fragility and led them on a sustained search to find healthier ways to interact with the land with the hope of creating a more sustainable future. Because of the support the community gave to their relative’s businesses, Douglas and Phelps saw a real future in trying to use the tools of business to change the energy and business paradigms. They are following in the footsteps of other family members who started sustainable agriculture businesses Hickory Nut Gap Meats and Flying Cloud Farm.



Lens flare of sunny sky by Sugar Hollow Solar

Mountains of paperwork down. NC rooftop solar ahead.

We know. It’s been confusing.

But it’s true: Duke Energy has officially announced the launch of their much anticipated NC Solar Rebate Program.

Here’s the quick and dirty for clean NC solar for Duke customers in 2018:

  1. The NC Solar Rebate Program was born because in 2017 the NC General Assembly passed “The Competitive Energy Solutions Law,” (1) which mandates that Duke provide solar incentives to NC customers.
  2. As a homeowner, this means you can save up to $6k on your solar system… typically around 25% of the cost, on top of the 30% federal tax credit (which is scheduled as is through 2019, after which it steps down four percentage points each year until it ends in 2022.)
  3. Duke set the rebate up as first come, first served. There are 10,000 kW worth of rebates for residential solar per year.
  4. … but this rebate will be available every year for the next five years. (Through 2022).
  5. So while they dialed up a sense of urgency with the kW per year cap (and yes, there is a queue) — there’s always next year if you think you want to go solar but you’re not quite ready. Because investing in solar isn’t a decision you should feel pressured about or rush into: it should be be carefully considered. And we’re here to help you understand exactly what could be right for you and your home, even if you’re just in the information gathering stage.
  6. We expect the rebate to triple (!!!) the amount of home solar installed in NC over the next five years. (Did you know NC is already #2 in the US for solar? (2))
  7. If your net meter for your solar system was or will be installed on or after January 1st 2018, you’re eligible!
  8. If you’re a residential or small non-residential customer (This means a system at or below 20 kW.), Duke will need your Certificate of Completion. (We’ll do this for you.)
  9. Duke says they’ll roll out applications July 9th 2018. (We’ll also fill these out for you.)
  10. If you’ve got questions, know that we’re a phone call away. Just ask!




Sugar Hollow office in snow


It’s 2018! We made it!

This month we realized something that made us nearly burst with WNC pride.

Here at Sugar Hollow HQ, we have a fancy web portal. It tracks the magic our solar panels are making out in the world.

And this past December, we noticed a little tick upwards that we had to share:

Thanks to your energy leadership and forward thinking, the solar panels we’ve installed in this community to date — on your land and on your roofs — have just surpassed 1.5 gigawatt hours of electricity.


From the sun!




We were so excited, we had a little fun with the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator to show you just what this means…

Together (you + us + the sun) we’ve generated over 1.5 million kilowatt hours strong, and counting. This is equal to:


  • Just under 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide NOT emitted.
  • 1.2 million pounds of coal NOT burnt.
  • $165,450 NOT spent on utility bills. 😉 

Oh, and — In carbon sequestration terms, it’s as if, 10 years ago, we all got together and planted 28,931 tree seedlings together.

This is the kind of geeky information that keeps us inspired and proud to do the work we get to do.

You are brilliant and inspiring, and we wanted to say a huge heartfelt “THANK YOU” for being part of the Sugar Hollow family and building a safe and clean future for our grandchildren.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish together. No coal in our stockings this year! 😀 😀

Have a radiant 2018! Solar panels and seedlings,

Your team at Sugar Hollow Solar


P.S. Maybe you haven’t made the switch to solar, and you’re wondering… is it really possible to reduce or even get rid of your utility bill, feel more energy independence, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time? (Spoiler alert: Very likely.)

Call us 828-628-6500 or email us to find out if your home might be perfect for solar. We’ll send over a quote, tailored just for you and your home. On us!

Got questions? We’ve got answers. Check out our FAQ page. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, please drop us a line. We’re here to help.




Imitate the Trees

13 June 2016

Surrounding a small house and dilapidated barn of the same warm rust-red color stands a grove of trees; tulip poplar and hickory, locust and birch, black gum and massive oaks, each unfolding towards the sky and the mountain cove, sipping warm sun and fresh Appalachia air. On my first lunch break on my first day at work for Sugar Hollow, about three weeks ago, I stood in the driveway, breathing, stretching, and drinking the light. Having been inside all morning, my body was rejoicing in the fresh air and the warm sun. In this moment of reflection on all the new tasks in my day and the faces I’d encountered at work, balanced with the satisfaction of the quiet peace of the sunny space, I felt connected to the trees who also needed sunlight to grow, think and stretch. I realized how the work done at Sugar Hollow Solar is essentially an attempt to imitate the trees. Capturing the sun’s energy and using it to make food and carry out other necessary functions is something trees have been doing for 385 million years. 3.4 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria appeared on earth and now, in the 21st century, humans also are trying to use sunlight. We’re late in the game, but better late than never!  Imitate the trees, that is what solar panels are all about. A SHS co-worker, Chavo Kreneck, explained in more detail what I was catching on to. “Plants”, he said “have been using incoming solar radiation for hundreds of millions of years to turn dirt into energy in the form of food. We are just now figuring out how to do something similar by using the same incoming radiation and utilizing silica (which is basically sand) to create energy in the form of electricity.”

Every house where panels are stuck on the roof is a little bit more tree-like, a little bit more sustainable. If photosynthetic organisms have survived for billions of years, I’d say we’re better off taking a page out of their book than any revolutionary idea a human comes up with today. Our species is young and naïve. What I realized on my first day of work is that what we are doing at Sugar Hollow Solar is not revolutionary, it is ancient, it has been happening since before time was conceived, and it speaks to the wisdom of nature. The insight of all the good people who work here at SHS and others who are investing time and energy in pursing solar energy are inspired partially by a recognition of our responsibility as a species within the web of living things. As humans who have been doing damage to the earth, we must reflect on what we might do to mitigate our impact, to imitate the trees; breath, stretch, grow. We are learning, and solar will help us get there.



Old Tjikko, the world’s oldest living tree, has been converting sunlight into sugar for about 9,550 years, since the last Ice Age! The Norway Spruce lives on the Fulufjället Mountain in the Dalarna province in Sweden.


Reflections of an intern at Sugar Hollow Solar

By Lily Clarke




April 28, 2016

We are excited to announce that Sugar Hollow Solar now offers financing for residential solar in North Carolina as well as South Carolina. If we gave you a quote last year and the upfront cost was difficult to manage, but you’re still interested, this might be the way to go!

Sugar Hollow Solar Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina Solar Energy

We understand that the initial cost of installing a system for your home isn’t always feasible, which is why we’ve partnered with Medallion Bank to offer these solar loans in terms of up to 180 months with a competitive APR. The Solar Bundle Loan option keeps you cash-positive by offering a 12 or 18 month same as cash loan with no payments required for the tax credit portion of the loan. The Solar Installment Loan option allows borrowers to apply their tax credits to the loan principal once it is received as a way reduce future monthly payments. There are also no closing costs and prepayment penalties. Both loan programs allow you to utilize any tax credits you may receive for installing the system.

Our team is here to walk you through the whole process, step-by-step. We’ll review your energy needs, create a solar energy plan for your family, and guide you through the process of securing financing, subsidies, and tax credits. You deserve to be self reliant and save money – Sugar Hollow Solar is here to help.

This new financing program helps us fulfill our philosophy of moving our society toward a more sustainable future by making solar energy approachable and affordable for homeowners throughout our region. Our belief is that this new program will lead to an even more energy efficient community that puts less stress on our environment.

Contact us today to get started — we’re excited to work with you!



March 30, 2016

Upstate South Carolinians– this blog is for you! We’re excited to announce that current Duke Energy solar rebates  and State and Federal tax credits  means that there has never been a better  time to invest in a solar energy system for your home or business! We have put together the handy infographics below to provide more detailed information; but, what you really need to know is that you can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars  over the next few years when you install one of these systems. Not to mention that they can pay themselves back  in as little  as 2 years for commercial and  6  years for residential when you factor in   net-metering credits and monthly energy savings. It’s a win-win-win situation: you save money, add value to the property , and help the environment – all at the same time. But you must act quickly because these  incentives  won’t be around forever!

Not sure if you can afford a solar system? We have even more exciting news – we are now offering financing for residential solar  energy systems with an APR as low as 2.99% and $0 down. Our financing program is available for qualified homeowners with a FICO score as low as 660 and offers 12- and 20-year repayment periods. The program is extremely flexible and designed to make solar energy affordable for your family. Your first 18 monthly payments are interest only payments, giving you time to receive any subsidies or tax credits and apply those amounts to the total borrowed amount. At month 19, your balance is recalculated to keep your monthly payments affordable.

So, Upstate South Carolina, are you ready? Our team is here to walk you through the whole process, step-by-step. We’ll review your energy needs, create a solar energy plan for your family, and guide you through the process of securing financing, subsidies, and tax credits. You deserve to be self reliant and save money – Sugar Hollow Solar is here to help. Contact us today to get started.


February 18, 2016

If you’re new to the concept of solar energy, one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle to understand is how installing a solar energy system actually saves you money. We all know it’s great for the environment. We know that the sun is a completely free source of energy. But, what can be tough to make sense of is how solar energy reduces your monthly electric bill. The process, called net-metering, is actually pretty simple and straight-forward.

Wouldn’t you love to see your electric meter run backwards each month? That’s how net-metering works. The process is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, your home’s rooftop system may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If your home is net-metered, your meter will run in reverse on bright and sunny days and actually provide a credit against what is consumed at night or other periods when your electricity use exceeds your system’s output. Since you’ll still need to use the grid at night and on cloudy days, you’ll still have a bill from the power company each month. But, you are only billed for your “net” energy use each month. The extra electricity that is generated by your home or commercial solar energy system is used to supply power to your neighbors and the surrounding community.

Before net-metering, your solar energy system would have used batteries to store the energy it created. Batteries were expensive, required regular  maintenance, and had to be replaced after a set number of years. Now, with net-metering, your home or business can be battery free – saving you time and money over the life of the system.

Net-metering allows you to create your own electricity – cleanly and efficiently. And, it helps reduce your reliance on the grid and your monthly energy bill. Want to know something that’s even more cool about net-metering? The process actually helps to keep the electric grid safe for everyone and minimizes the total number of power plants that are needed by reducing  the strain on distribution centers during peak times and enabling the power created from your home or business to offset an increase in demand from your neighbors. Long term net-metering can also help reduce the amount of energy lost in long-distance electricity transmission. And, studies also show that net-metered homes and businesses are much more aware of their electricity usage and reduce their usage, overall.

Like most things, net-metering isn’t all happy go lucky. Some opponents of net-metering argue that  crediting solar energy owners for the energy they generate for the grid is unfair because the rate net-metered homes and businesses are credited is higher than the rate most utility companies pay for electricity at their wholesale cost. There’s also the issue of a home or business owner making money off  the power company by producing more than it needs during a given time, although  most states have eliminated this problem by putting a cap or limit on the amount a customer can offset their home’s energy usage through net-metering. Others say that net-metering creates  an unnecessary strain on the administrative services of the power company, causing them to hire more staff and raise prices for everyone.

Our team at Sugar Hollow Solar is ready to discuss your specific needs and talk to you about how net-metering may or may not be the best option for your home or business. Contact us today!