Company touts solar incentive program

JMS Solar Network & Associates installs systems

The Telegraph
January 2, 2008 - 9:24PM

Dawud Muhammad, solar dealer and project manager for JMS Solar Network & Associates in Alton, has hopes of seeing an extension of the new solar energy rebate program, which has an April 30 deadline for applications.

“We have completed a GTB solar project in Edwardsville, which we have a Mr. Michael Kluthe, a recipient of the new solar rebate program, which offers up to
$10,000,” (per building), Muhammad said.

Muhammad, who spoke at the State Capitol, says information from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity concerning the new solar energy rebate program reveals that new funding and expanded guidelines allow one person, business or nonprofit to install solar in up to 10 buildings and receive up to $100,000 in rebate funds.

He is hoping to see an extension of the application deadline. JMS Solar has a state-licensed roofing company for solar roofing mounting systems.

Kluthe said there are three types of solar systems: the grid tie system, battery backup and a combination of both. He said he is not using full capability.

“I have 15 150-watt solar panels, a 3,000-watt inverter and 48-volt battery backup system,” Kluthe said. “At this point, I am not officially on the grid.”

Muhammad said Pyramid Electric, a trained union company, did installation and ACS Roofing and Siding Co. did solar mounts. Kluthe has paperwork to turn in to Ameren. Muhammad said the new Net Metering bill waives the cost on meters.

The basic necessities, the 110-volt refrigerator, 240-volt well and 110-volt furnace, are the three items on backup power. It is a separate circuit. Kluthe said it is for emergencies such as power outages. There is no water without the well, he said.

“We were without (water) in July 2006 for nine days,” he said. “That was rough.”

Muhammad said he has met with Alton Mayor Donald Sandidge to discuss the solar rebate program for the city. Sandidge said the city is looking for alternative energy sources such as solar but has no funds for solar implementation.

“When we remodeled City Hall, I recommended it (solar) to architects and engineers,” Sandidge said. “City Hall would be ideal for solar.”

He said the cost is small compared to something else. Sandidge said the city would have been better off with solar for the building. Grants are available for such projects, he said.

The energy bill is up for review from the Illinois House and Senate, and Muhammad’s concern is continuing the current tax credits, Muhammad said. Businesses, after using the state rebate program, can write off the remaining balance of the cost of installing a solar energy system within five years, he said. This is the last year to do that, with Dec. 31 the deadline, Muhammad said.

Kluthe said he had a gas-powered generator during the July 2006 weather emergency. He said he worried about the outage being widespread and gas stations running out of gas.

“As long as the sun shines, you have power you can make,” Kluthe said.

He said if he isn’t home during a power outage, his wife doesn’t have to worry. There is backup even with cloud cover.

“Our company, JMS Solar Network & Associates, hired union electricians to receive the training and experience to address the future growth coming within the marketplace due to solar energy technologies applications,” Muhammad said.

Kluthe said he hopes it takes off, and he sees a lot of potential. An electronics technician with Boeing in St. Louis, he said he has an active system but said there are passive systems as well.

“I’m a technical type of guy,” Kluthe said.

He said no matter how much is invested into energy efficiency, it can only go so far with the rising cost of energy. Muhammad said oil rose to $100 per barrel Jan. 2, making a $30 jump over about three to four months.

“During this year (2007) we have had some major blows to our economy due to rising energy costs,” Muhammad said.