The Minnesota Daily, September 28, 2006

posted Nov 26, 2008, 3:47 PM by Stephanie Hankerson   [ updated Nov 26, 2008, 3:48 PM by Unknown user ]

"Some residents getting hot water via solar power"

The solar-powered hot water heater systems cost participants $6,000 each. – Every bright and sunny morning, Connie Sullivan knows she's saving money. Sullivan, one of 19 participants in the Southeast Como Improvement Association's Solar Pilot Project, had her solar-powered water heater installed two weeks ago and is the first person in the project to have a fully functional system. Although Sullivan doesn't completely understand the science of how her system works, she - like many other participants - said she knows it's going to save money on her natural gas bill and is harmless to the environment. Sullivan, who lives in the Southeast Como Neighborhood, said the city put up many speed bumps in the process, including requiring her roof to be reinforced to have the solar panels installed. The reinforcement cost her $2,500, Sullivan said, but she's making up for it. Sullivan received a discount on her system as well as a $2,000 tax credit from the federal government for being part of the project. The systems were purchased in bulk from Innovative Power Systems, and cost each participant $6,000. "This hot water I get from this system is free, and when gas gets expensive I will still have hot water while other people will have to take lukewarm showers," Sullivan said. Justin Eibenholzl, Environmental Coordinator at Southeast Como Improvement Association, launched the project in August 2005 because of its benefits to the environment. Eibenholz said the system is equivalent to planting 75 trees over a lifetime because of how cleanly the system runs. In the system, the normal water heater becomes a backup to the solar-powered water heater, which is much bigger and stores 80 gallons of solar-heated water. The water is heated through the sun's energy by using solar panels placed on the roof of the house. Sullivan said her main attraction to the system was that it was environmentally friendly. "I wanted to use less natural gas: The less I use, the better I feel," she said. . . (The Minnesota Daily, September 28, 2006)