Local company helps homeowners ‘go solar’

Staff Report

BELVIDERE, Ill. — A Belvidere company is doing its part to help local residents become energy independent.

Beginning Thursday, July 28, EcoHome Expert, Inc., will start installing a 30-panel photovoltaic (PV) solar array at 4633 Adamson Lane in Machesney Park. The system is scheduled to be completed Friday, July 29.

The system will generate most of the home’s electrical needs, uses solar panels manufactured in the U.S. and will produce power for more than 25 years.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), more than 65,000 homeowners added solar power to their homes last year, more than doubling the number of installations in 2009.

“The first time you throw that switch and see that electric meter start spinning backwards, it’s hard not to get excited,” says EcoHome’s President Bob Raleigh.

Raleigh says interest in solar is high, partly because energy prices are increasing.

“When you’ve got the stock market all over the place, it’s easy to see why people want a safe place to put their money, and solar power gives them that,” Raleigh says.

The average cost of a solar electric system is $11,000 for a 10-panel system, after federal tax credits. Homeowners can then sell their renewable energy credits to utilities while still using the power in their homes and cutting their electric bills.

The solar installations are helping more than just their owners, they’re putting money into the local economy. Raleigh says solar could be a big part of their business as consumer interest continues to explode.

Nationwide, the solar industry employs almost 100,000 Americans across all 50 states, and is projected to support more than half a million American jobs by 2016, according to SEIA.

Raleigh says improvement in technology has also helped fuel the explosion of interest in solar.

“Now, we can add one solar panel at a time,” Raleigh says. “So homeowners can expand their system and watch the energy output on the computer, or even on their phone.”

EcoHome Expert is at 2231 Hawkey Drive, Belvidere. Visit www.ecohomeexpert.com, e-mail bob@ecohomeexpert.com or call (815) 544-1100 for more details.

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