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Sunny Days Have More Four Staters Thinking About Solar Energy - KOAM TV 7

Sunny Days Have More Four Staters Thinking About Solar Energy

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Joplin, MO -

Summer isn't officially here yet. but temperatures are warming up thanks to the sun.  Local solar panel installation companies say they're seeing an increase in business.

Richard Johnson's solar panels have been soaking up the sun for the past three years.  The summer months are making paying the electric bills a breeze.  He only pays $13, fee for his solar system to connect to Liberty Utilities Empire District.  Johnson's heating bills are about $30.  To get these energy savings, though, he had to buy his solar system for around $18,000.

"We did the right thing," says Johnson.

"I don't like paying high bills," says Peggy Samson, who works for Empire District Electric.  "I've always been one to take care of mother nature."  Samson paid $19,000 for her solar panels. 

We asked her when she hopes to have this investment paid off.  "I have a spreadsheet I play with.  It shouldn't take but six or seven years, especially because there's going to be rate increases coming down the pike probably in the next year or so."

"The data we show is that in a roughly five state region, we have seen an average of about 40 percent increase on the (traditional electricity) rates over the past 10 years," says Jeremy Brookman with Sun Solar in Joplin.

Johnson and Samson paid for their units upfront.  But Brookman says more people are also taking out loans on their systems because when it comes to making payments on those loans...  "There's an end game in sight with solar.  There's never an end game with the energy company."

Energy companies say rate hikes are needed for infrastructure improvements that meet environmental laws.  People like Johnson and Samson say they've found the perfect way to protect...and collect...from the environment. 

Brookman also says it's important to research a company before doing business with them.  Some people have contacted him to fix a solar unit bought from a different company that's now out of business.

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