Craig Severance knows first hand the benefits of solar power.
"Our Xcel bills are now $10 a month and that's not for electricity use because our meters are running backwards, its just for having the meter there," says Severance. Severance and his wife had solar panels installed at her business, a process that didn't cost them a dime.
Catching the sun costs nothing, for the Severances, they used Xcel's solar rebates to cover almost half the price of the installation on her business. Then they used a federal government tax credit to write off 30 percent of the total cost of the installation, a tax write off of nearly $30,000. They put the rest on a mortgage loan with interest they also wrote off on taxes.
"They aren't going to keep doing this," says Severance. Xcel wants renewable energy to provide 20 percent of the power on the grid. A goal Xcel says they are not close to meating just yet.
Ihrke is hopeful the government can provide a new incentive once the solar power tax credit expires at the end of 2008. "The government is our voice and we should be the one telling them that we do want this," says Ihrke. Ihrke says if people want to keep the rebates they need to speak out. She says, "if people are still interested in having solar available they should really talk to Xcel and talk to Governor Bill Ritter."
However, without the rebates and incentives solar power is not cost effective.