BHS Grad Tyler Dodd Launches Sun Dog Corporation Solar Power Installations

By Julie Perine on August 27, 2017 via

A 2002 graduate of Bridgeport High School, Tyler Dodd has always aspired to run his own business. After recently moving his family to the rural Mount Clare area, the light bulb went off.
Their family’s house is smaller, but their electric bill is twice as much, so Dodd and his wife Tiffany made a decision to go solar.
Once he saw the system working to his benefit, Dodd – who holds an engineering degree from Fairmont State and works as a project manager for Foxfire Corporation - said he knew he had to share it with others.
“I looked on the meter on my house a couple weeks ago and it was spinning backwards on a sunny day,” he said. “I knew then that this was going to be my business.”
Sun Dog Solar Corporation was born and is currently up and running. Companies by the same name are operating in states including Maine and California, but the local business is not affiliated in any way, Dodd said. In fact, he came up with the name before making that discovery – or before learning that sundog is defined as a mock sun – or a bright circular spot on a solar halo.
Dodd has already made his first install just outside Bridgeport city limits. He explained how the system of solar panels works by converting usable energy.
“It’s most efficient when (the panels) face the south. The panels collect the sun as DC electric and then that travels to wires through an inverter then changes over to AC electric – which is what the house runs off of,” he said. “The main type of installation is for grid tie. Basically, you tie into power already fed to your house and when the sun is shining, in most cases, the meter spins backwards and the power company actually owes you credit for that electricity you are producing. You don’t get money back, but you build up kilowatt hours – basically when it’s sunny out, you store energy and earn power company credits, so on a rainy day, you can tap into the power you already created.”
It’s obviously more involved than that and there are various kinds of safety switches and disconnects required, Dodd said.
The system is well designed and in most cases, panels are installed on the roof.
“But if you have land and you want them there instead of the roof, I can do that too,” he said.
The system can also be set up “completely off grid” when no other power source is connected to the structure.
Installation of solar panels is an investment, showing a return on that investment in anywhere between eight and 12 years. If financing the system, payments will be around the same as an average electric bill.
“But once it’s paid off, you have no power bill,” he said. “The system also increases property value so you can’t really lose on them.”
Currently, the state of West Virginia is offering a 30 percent tax break when converting to the environmentally-friendly system.
“There are a lot of good things going on in connection with solar power,” Dodd said. “Like many other things, West Virginia is behind other states five to 10 years. In states including California, the solar industry is booming. West Virginia hasn’t really caught on yet.”
Dodd provides quotes and designs the system – including number of panels - based on the homeowner’s historical power usage.  
“I design the system to fit a 12-month usage history,” he said. “That way it’s most cost effective for the customer to offset any cost. I can match exactly what you need.”
Just this week, Dodd performed a solar power install for Cindy and Randy Gum’s home in South Hills, just off Hinkle Lake Road.
Gum said he’s been thinking about it for quite a while – for about 40 years.
“I did research on solar energy in the 1970s when I was a Potomac State,” he said. “I’ve been watching it ever since.”
After working with Dodd and researching his own personal feasibility, he and his wife gave Dodd the green flag to design a system and proceed with installation.
“I told Tyler if it was feasible, I’m ready,” Gum said. “And I’ve been ready for a long time.”
In recent years, solar power systems have become more affordable and with technological improvements, they have become more efficient, too, he said.
Dodd believes there’s a future in solar power.
“Electric is one utility you’re not going to do without.  It’s guaranteed you’re going to have an electric bill so why not invest in this and save money,” he said.
The systems are warrantied for 25 years, expected to last 35-40 years.
Dodd is aware of solar power companies in French Creek and the Berkeley Springs area.
“I think I’m the only one in the local area, but I’m sure there will be more competitors in a year or two,” he said. “I think this is a lot like the heating and air conditioning industry. Forty to 50 years ago, air conditioning wasn’t very common and now I’d say 90 percent of homes have it and no one thinks about it. It’s just a matter of time.”
In addition to his position as project manager for Foxfire, Dodd has served as an adjunct professor at Fairmont State. Hi is happy to have expanded his knowledge in the solar power industry. 
Tyler and Tiffany (Webster) Dodd live in Mount Clare with their three young children. 

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