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Jun 7, 2010 10:16 PM by Andy Koen

A $0 electric bill thanks to the sun

Mark Ferguson got some happy news in the mail when his Colorado Springs Utilities bill came: a charge of $0 for his total electric use for the month.  It wasn't a typo.  Back in March, Ferguson installed solar panels and now uses the sun to power his home.

"I look forward to getting the utility bill now, just to see how much less it is, I just enjoy seeing it," Ferguson said.

The system cost roughly $17,500, but thanks to rebates from Colorado Springs Utilities and federal tax credits, Ferguson ended up paying closer to $3,400.

In the two months the system has been online, Ferguson has already generated over a megawatt of power.

He had a pretty good idea of how much money he could save using solar thanks to his participation in a renewable energy study conducted by 35 business students at UCCS.

Ferguson and his fellow MBA candidates compiled the Assessing Domestic Renewable Energy Markets (AD REM) a capstone project of their finance class. 

"We found that wind energy can be [sustainable], solar energy can be as well with the use of incentives," said William Imhof, one Ferguson's classmates.

The study is a comprehensive look at the costs and benefits for local businesses and homeowners in using solar and wind energy.

Their findings show that developing renewable energy sources are sustainable and profitable in El Paso County.  They also show that large government subsidies are necessary to maintain that sustainability.

Professor Fred Crowley, who oversaw the project, hopes the information will be useful to local lawmakers.

"I certainly hope this study does encourage the EDC the community, elected officials to look at this aggressively,"

Solar energy is by far the most popular green energy upgrade.  Colorado Springs Utilities gave away all $700,000 in rebates that they had budgeted within the first two months of the year.

Ferguson was one of 22 homeowners and 7 businesses to get rebates this year.  There are still solar rebates available this year through the Governor's Energy Office. 

Click here to learn more about rebates from Colorado Springs Utilities.

Click here to take a look at the AD REM study.

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