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TMU considering solar panel project

June 28, 2013
Ross Bercik - Managing Editor , Traer Star-Clipper

Traer Municipal Utilities is among the many utility providers across the nation that are considering solar energy, according to a recent statement released by the agency.

TMU is in the process of collecting feedback from customers to decide whether a Community Owned Solar Project would be economically feasible.

The project will depend largely on the level of interest from consumers, and will include the sale of individual solar panels to customers at an installed cost. TMU would be able to install, maintain and insure the solar panels and monitor the output so that customers can be credited on their energy bill for the energy produced by their panel.

Panels for the Traer Community Solar Project would be located just south of the parking lot at the old Traer Manufacturing building, which will be a secure site that offers the best possible access to sunlight.

In short, the program will provide clean energy for the community as a whole, while offering the economic benefit of a credit to your monthly bill as a TMU customer.

"If you would like to use solar energy to offset a portion of the electricity you use, but don't want or have room for a solar installation on your property, this is your answer," said Pat Stief, TMU general manager.

After construction of the wind turbine, the agency has been looking for ways to keep power generation local, and the solar option presents a solid opportunity to do just that.

"All of the output from the solar facility will be fed back into the TMU electric distribution system and used by our customers," Stief said.

TMU officials are currently in the process of obtaining cost figures for the project, with an anticipated cost of around $500 per panel. That estimate includes the cost of an installed panel capable of producing energy, which is estimated to bring a return of $3.70 per panel per month.

While $3.70 a month doesn't sound like much, over the 20-year life of the panel, the return on investment would be $900 for the consumer. After 20 years, ownership of the panel would revert to TMU.

In addition to the environmental and cost benefits, Traer customers may also be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, effectively reducing the cost to $350 per panel. Customers are encouraged to check with their tax professionals before making a decision.

If you are interested in reducing your monthly utility bill while also helping the environment, the Traer Community Solar Project is something you may want to consider. For more information on project, please contact Traer Municipal Utilities at 478-2580.



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