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Rising Energy Costs: More People Turn To Solar Power

Warming up to solar

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Energy costs continue to rise in many parts of Eastern Idaho. The increase has more people turning to solar power.

Upfront costs to install solar panels range from $8,000 to $10,000.

The government offers a 30% tax credit, which is one of the reasons more people are turning to solar to run their homes and businesses.

"To me every time I drive down that road and see the solar panels I'm seeing savings," said Ryan Rasmussen, owner of Turtle and Crane Assisted Living Center in Idaho Falls.

The center is undergoing installation of solar panels at all of their facilities.

Rasmussen said they were looking to cut costs and save energy wherever possible, and federal rebates and incentives made installing solar panels possible. Rasmussen added the money saved from solar energy will ultimately benefit the residents.

"People are looking into what can I put some money in now that'll save me money down the road," said President of Big Dog Solar, Trever Gerdes. He agreed solar panels are expensive, but added they are a long-term investment.

"Payback, a lot of people look at payback," said Gerdes

"It does take a while to pay off. If you're looking to make money on it, you're looking the wrong way to it," said Ken Martin who recently installed solar panels.

Martin had Big Dog Solar install ground-mounted solar panels at his home.

He also has a wind turbine installed two years ago. Martin said the solar panels have already out-powered the wind turbine within a few months.

"We're getting ready to retire and we wanted to cut down our bills as much as we could and you know save power," said Martin.

Entering into their golden years, they're turning to the golden rays to charge their retirement fund.

"I've seen about a $100 a month off my bill. It's about a quarter of my total bill maybe a little more," said Martin.

An average home runs on 30 kilowatts a day. The solar panels charge for 5.8 hours a day at a rate of six kilowatts an hour.

By the end of the day, Gerdes said it usually breaks even.

"A lot of people will set up to where they're net metering and so during the day when the sun is out like this a lot of time the meter will be rolling backwards and then at night they'll pull the power back off so you're meter will be rolling back and forth," said Gerdes.

"I figured this with the tax breaks it would take eight years to pay off," said Martin.

The solar panels come with an online monitoring system you can access from your phone.
The system also alerts home owners and Big Dog Solar if something goes wrong with the solar power.
Residential installation of solar panels in Idaho entitles homeowners to a state tax deduction of 40% of the cost for the first year and 20% each year for the next three years.

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