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Electric co-op offers solar power rebate

FLOWERY BRANCH - From a purely economic standpoint, the time has never been better to install a solar water heating system in your home.

With the tax incentives on purchasing such units coming from both the federal and state governments, Georgia's largest electric cooperative is joining the party too.

With Jackson EMC's "Right Choice Sun Power" program, customers who participate can receive a $450 rebate from the cooperative, which serves more than 204,000 meters in 10 Northeast Georgia counties.

The co-op will help you arrange the entire installation too, complete with independent inspections completed both before and after the set up.

"After heating and cooling, water heating makes up the next largest portion of a typical home's energy use," Jackson EMC's Amy Bryan said. "This is a win-win situation where our customers save on their electric bill, we reduce the need for additional power generation and together we help the environment."

To celebrate the program's launch, representatives from Jackson EMC, Solar Energy Marketing and Correct Solar Installation were on hand Thursday afternoon to demonstrate just how easy it is to get solar water heating up and running in your home.

According to Bill Hosken of Atlanta-based Solar Energy Marketing, a typical family of four can save $24 per month on average based on current electricity rates.

"The solar-produced energy is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy contained in 90 gallons of imported gasoline, 118 gallons of propane or 113 therms of natural gas," Hosken said. "As people start to look at moving us towards energy efficiency, I'm convinced energy prices will increase, which will make this technology that much more affordable."

As with any new technology, installer John Pfeiffer warned interested consumers to do their homework.

"You have to do your research, just like with an automobile," Pfeiffer said.

He also said one of the systems could be installed in one working day.

As for Kevin Olson, whose home provided the demonstration, his decision to go solar was more about dollars saved than it was about being green.

"I like to save energy and I don't like to spend money on energy," Olson said. "The sun provides enough."

He also had some simple wisdom that might explain the benefit of switching to solar water heating.

"When you use the system more, you get the most savings out of it," he said. "And I do like to take long showers."