Niagara Gazette

Features

August 28, 2013

Area homeowners say their solar panels pay for themselves in just a few years

Niagara Gazette — First, Ken Horvath tried burning corn kernels to heat his home. Then, he tried burning cherry pits.

The cherry pits were a challenge because after hauling in several truckloads from a grower in Westfield, Horvath had to rake them out on the driveway of his Town of Lockport ranch home so each pit could dry in the sun.  

It is not easy being green. But Horvath is determined to become “fossil fuel-free.”

That’s why he was so passionate about the solar panels. He’s expecting to have his third set installed soon by Solar Liberty, an Amherst solar company that has such diverse customers as the Riviera Theatre and Niagara University.

Horvath, who had considered windmills but thought they were a bit too complicated, says his solar system “just lays up on the roof” and makes electricity.

The former engineer, who is also growing a praire preserve in his back yard, just wants to do the right thing for the planet. He gets agitated when people talk about the “payback.”  He wonders aloud why they don’t care if their new couch has a “payback.”

Horvath is doing it for the planet. He bought his 25 acres in Lockport so he could “save it for Mother Nature.”

But, with the new federal incentives and other grants available, the cost of buying solar has been reduced lately by nearly two-thirds, according to solar distributors. 

“There is a $5,000 tax credit from New York state on the system cost,” said Michael Ryszka of Astrum Solar, “and there is a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government.”  

In addition, Ryszka said, with an average installation that costs about $30,000, the state would provide a grant for nearly one-third of the cost.

With all those grants and credits, the solar panels also pay for themselves much quicker, according to Bill Wagner of Pendleton. 

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