With the cost of electricity rising, some area residents have looked to alternative energy sources to lighten the load.
Scott Garing, chief of the Harmony Fire District, is joining the ranks of those seeking energy independence through the power of the sun harnessed by the latest solar panel technology.
Garing said he first began looking into installing the panels because he was paying hundreds of dollars every month to power his household.
“Well I was just looking for a way to supplement my electric bill. It's pretty high,” he said. “So I started talking to SolarCity to see what it would cost.”
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and turn it into electricity that can power everything from homes to corporate offices.
Turns out, the cost per month about matched his monthly electricity bill.
“I'm investing my money into energy independence,” Garing said. “I plan on paying it off in just a few years utilizing my tax refund.”
Under the federal solar tax credit, solar panel purchasers may deduct 30 percent of the cost in their taxes. After 2019, however, the credit goes down to 26 percent, and after 2020 it goes down to 22 percent.
In addition to the federal credit, the state is working to do its part to increase solar energy use across the state.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Energy Programs Office (EPO) leads Finding Pennsylvania's Solar Future, a 2017-19 statewide planning project working to equip Pennsylvania to produce more solar energy by 2030.
The EOP has set a goal of increasing the state's amount of in-state electricity sales that come from in-state solar energy generation from 1 percent to 10 percent.
Once paid off, Garing will be energy independent. The only cost will be on the panels which can last for decades.
“They have panels that have been up for 32 years that are still producing,” he said.
His panels also come with a warranty, Garing said.
Once he decided to go for it, Garing said SolarCity made the process quick and simple.
“Any day in the next week or two (they'll turn it on),” he said. “It was so painstakingly easy.”
Garing said he recommends switching to solar as a way to both save money long-term and to achieve the dream of energy independence.
“It's not about having the money to do it,” he said. “I'm not spending any extra money I'm just spending it differently.”
And in addition to supplying energy to your household, Garing said they look good, too.
“It's a great sleek nice design,” he said.