Making Clean Energy a Reality

Article Published: Oct. 14, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Making Clean Energy a Reality

Genesis Energy Solutions owner Michael Keesee displays a solar panel at his West Jefferson business.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Genesis isn't just a name.

It represents a beginning - and a concept, both of which Michael Keesee hopes the High Country will embrace.

Genesis Energy Solutions opened in West Jefferson this summer, bringing a fresh outlook and a cleaner brand of energy to the area - renewable.

"We specialize in clean energy from the sun, wind and water," Keesee said.

Simply put, for a relatively simple - and increasingly affordable - alternative.

"The simple reason being that our world is full of too much carbon in our atmosphere from burning fossil fuels," he said.

Having worked in construction and remodeling for 24 years, with his company, Genesis Home Improvement, Keesee has effectively branched out into the land of green, taking his handiwork to the next level - photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal.

Genesis Energy Solutions was created, he said, "to educate the public as to why we need to make a change in our electricity usage."

And Keesee's big on education. Fueled by a passion for a clean environment, he enrolled at Appalachian State University to participate in its renewable energy initiative, "and they teach you everything from design to installation," he said.

Keesee now holds certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, but education doesn't stop there. He also plans on spreading the word.

"I'm all into the education of renewable energy, to let people now what they do, why we're doing this, and to give them options," he said. "I like educating people, because it helps them understand why we need renewable energy - the depletion of fossil fuels and our high carbon footprint."

Should someone show interest in upgrading their home or business to renewable energy, Genesis makes a complimentary house call, also compiling a customized packet with a general purpose statement and information from N.C. State University's Solar Center, offering facts and statistics about available renewable energy solutions. And while his business is based in West Jefferson, Keesee will accept jobs within a 200-mile radius.

"Our services include consulting, education, design and installation, engineering, energy efficiency evaluations, as well as any contracting," Keesee said.

It's also about opening one's mind.

"I tried for the past year to focus mainly on energy solutions, but the general public is not accepting it yet," Keesee said. "People are still kind of scared by this idea of creating their own power, not realizing it pays back. They think it's like buying a car.

"My major focus is to go out there and market, education and sell through a network of people, talk to other builders, contractors, and put people to work."

Though Genesis employs a staff of seven, construction bids go to area contractors, he said.
Another benefit is helping his customers make money.

"The return on a renewable energy investment for residential is 5 to 7 percent, and commercial can go up to 20 percent, all over a year," he said. "And this is over a 25-year period, because systems are warranted for that long. We show people how this returns money back to them, while informing them how they're helping the environment."

For instance, if one were to invest X amount of dollars in a wind system, after X amount of years, the system would be paid for, and after that, it's pure profit.

Payback for a wind system takes approximately five to six years, Keesee said, for a system that will last - with proper maintenance - for 25 to 40 years.

"I base all my figures on today's cost of electricity," he said. "As prices escalate, which they will, payback will be more. And that's an important sales point. We're saving people money. It's not like buying a used car, because this appreciates."

He also relies on American ingenuity, only buying systems crafted in the United States, and locally, whenever possible.

"I believe in partnering with anybody who wants to make this business happen," Keesee said.

Renewable energy does, however, require a significant investment. But prior to
any recommendation, Keesee conducts an energy efficiency audit on clients' homes or businesses, performing a comprehensive analysis on how they can save energy through simple means, like aerators for faucets, compact fluorescent light bulbs and high-efficiency insulation.

"Before I install a system for you, you need to know where you're wasting your electricity," he said.
This helps clients save money in the long run, before investing in the long run.

As for systems themselves, one of the most popular is solar photovoltaic. A 1,000-watt system, at roughly $7 per watt, would cost $7,000, including full installation.

"That system will not meet one's total electric needs, but it's a starter system," Keesee said. "Small systems pay back quicker, and then you can always add on. Because everything's in place, you just add panels."

Though prices vary for each type of system, with wind averaging $6 per watt, tax incentives can drastically lower the price, Keesee said.

For instance, a 3,500-watt wind system would cost $21,000. If the system produces 8,000 kilowatts in a year, at 10 cents per kilowatt, the owner would produce $800 in electricity per year. And $12,000 back in tax incentives off the $21,000 turbine speaks for itself, he said.

"It would take 10 to 12 years to pay back with average wind speeds," he said. "With that system, the return on your investment would be 40 percent over 25 years. You can't find an investment anywhere like that, and that doesn't include the escalating price of electricity. But that's on the safe side. I never overestimate anything for people."

People can see for themselves by contacting Genesis Energy Solutions ( For more information, call (336) 877-WIND or (336) 620-2873.

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