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Solar Helps Schools, Homes, and Businesses

Solar energy facts do us little good until we can see solar panels working – practically, easily and affordably. Springfield, Illinois has become a beacon of residential solar power in recent years with shining examples from homes to visitors’ centers to local schools.

Solar Panels For Your Home

A 3-year-old Spaulding Orchard Road home is the lowest energy consumer in the neighborhood. The carpets are made of recycled grocery bags. The bathroom countertops? Recycled cardboard and paper. The flooring comes from recycled tires and the outside deck is actually recycled plastic bottles. We’re not talking about a hobo’s residence here. The people touring this sustainable home have no inkling that this house is any different than the others on the block. The only tell-tale sign are the residential solar panels on the rooftop.

Solar Energy For Business

The Southwind Park visitors’ center has platinum status with the LEED certification board for its solar panel installation, 15 geothermal heat pump systems and soon-to-be wind generator. Nearby, the Capital Area Career Center and Fit Club South contain impressive 12 and 14 kilo-watt solar power systems, respectively. It’s hard to keep track of all the new solar developments in Springfield these days.

Solar Powered Schools

Grant Middle School, Pleasant Plains High School and the PORTA schools have all experimented with a solar panel installation thanks to a grant from the Illinois Solar Schools Program sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. PORTA is perhaps the most impressive example of how renewable energy can transform our communities. After installing solar panels, a geothermal heating / cooling system and a 600 kilo-watt wind generator, the power bills dropped from $24,000 to $7,000 per month, saving them an astounding $204,000 a year!

Is Solar Power Affordable?

Springfield solar experts say that the cheapest solar power can be purchased in small DIY solar kits which typically sell for around $400. The solar panel cost can be offset by federal and state rebates and tax credits for larger projects. Special incentives for farmers, business owners, non-profits and schools can absorb up to two-thirds of the cost, suddenly making solar a viable clean energy alternative to fossil fuels.

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