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      Saving money with sunshine

      Home in Chocolay Township
      In 2012, Clarence Stortz of Powell Township near Big Bay installed a large solar panel to power his home. So far, he estimates he's saved about a thousand dollars.

      "The benefit is that our Alger-Delta bill is much lower than it was, especially in this time of the year," said Stortz.

      He says that it's produced a surplus of energy every month of the year, meaning a credit is added to the next bill. Installation wasn't cheap, but when he filed his taxes, he earned about $15,000 in a federal tax credit, about 50 percent of the original cost.

      On Facebook, Bob Taylor says, "I think it's very cost effective. It might be an expense in the beginning, but with the rising cost of electricity, it's a wise decision."

      Both solar and wind energy are becoming increasingly popular, and many are switching because of rising utility costs.

      "You can't lose on solar power. That Sun is going to be shining... There's no question that you're going to be making money on this system," said Jay Clancey, Co-Owner of Dawn to Dusk Photovoltaics in Ishpeming, where they isntall solar panels professionally.

      According to Clancey, solar panels are extremely energy efficient. They produce energy even on overcast days and in the winter with less sunshine. Clancey says that cooler temperatures, like here in the U.P., make the panels work more efficiently. A hotter panel, regardless of the amount of sunlight, is less efficient.

      "A photovoltaic system is going to put money in your pocket over the years. It's a sure-thing investment," Clancey said.

      Stortz expects that the money he's saving will pay for his panel in about 10 years and he recommends going solar.

      "The energy is available there, and it saves buying it from the power company and them generating it," Stortz said.

      Clancey says that the panels are very low maintenance and that they often work efficiently for more than 50 years.