Building firm starts solar, wind division

September 14, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- "Green" builders Mike and Pete McKechnie of Mountain View Builders have opened a separate company for the solar and wind portion of their business, and have hired a local builder and green energy consultant as its director of operations. 

Mike McKechnie said solar and wind have been part of the business for the last three years, but in order to give them the right amount of attention, someone needed to direct their operations. They choose Colin Williams.

McKechnie said Mountain View Solar and Wind has grown since June, when Williams became its director. 

"We have expanded our personnel that helped it blossom to meet the needs of the customers in the four-state area," McKechnie said.   

Williams grew up in Berkeley Springs, went away to college, then moved back with his wife and started a business building custom homes, he said.  


He always had an interest in renewable energy, and he and Mike McKechnie met to share ideas. 

"The Mountain View Building Co. set him apart from everyone else in the area," Williams said. 

While most of the building industry has struggled with a downturn in the number of new homes to build, Mountain View Builders expanded and created another company, Williams said.  

"It's because we are 'green' builders," Mike McKechnie said. "Customers want what we do, and that's why we are so busy."

Williams said it is important to teach people about renewable energy, and about cost-effective ways to heat and cool their homes.  

"We are speaking more and more to the general public about how solar energy, in particular, is more affordable now than ever," Williams said. "We have seen a great deal of excitement to take advantage of the tax credits and also lowering their utility bills."

The tax credits are for renewable energy systems, he said. The 30 percent no-cap federal tax credit is available until 2016. State tax credits vary from state to state, and in Maryland and Pennsylvania, credits are particularly good, he said.

Williams provides information about all types of renewable power, including wind generators, solar electric, solar hot water, and geothermal heating and cooling. 

Williams said one of the best energy-saving appliances for the home is a solar water heater. He said now is the time to install one to take advantage of federal and state tax credits. 

Mountain View Solar and Wind offers a home-energy analysis, through which weatherization, heating and cooling systems are checked and reports containing recommendations are prepared for homeowners. 

Home-improvement tax credits may be utilized for cost savings, he said. 

"Education is critical to change the mind-set and actions of people," Williams said, adding that one of the best ways to get the word out is by working with young people. 

The company is part of the youth mentoring task force through the Morgan County Partnership and is starting a job-shadowing program called Kick-Start Your Future. 

Mountain View Solar and Wind is designing renewable energy systems for a science garden at Warm Springs Intermediate School and will install them when funding is secured, he said.

Another project with which it is involved is using solar hot water to heat the plant beds in the greenhouse operation at Berkeley Springs High School, Williams said. 

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