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Harnessing the energy of the sun to hold onto some cash

6:27 AM, Apr 9, 2008   |    comments
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Pedestrian Shops is located on Pearl Street in Boulder. The rooftop it's borrowing is a couple of blocks away, in a sunnier location.

Richard Polk is the owner of the store and says because his business doesn't have enough roof space or sunshine, Polk found a "host" building a few blocks away to set up a 10 kilowatt solar panel system.

The residents are paying Polk to solar power his building and he says it offsets his business's electric bill.

"There are a lot of good reasons to use energy cautiously and put back whenever you can. The state, federal government and Xcel Energy end up paying for about half the system, as much as 60 percent in some instances," Polk said.

The solar panels will produce about 14,000 kilowatts of solar electricity every year. That's preventing about 28,000 pounds of carbon emissions from rising into the atmosphere.

For the next 20 years, the solar electricity will cost 15 percent less than Xcel Energy's prevailing rates.

Polk says he's invested about $70,000. With government rebates, renewable energy credit payments and investment tax credits, the business expects to make half the amount back in four or five years.

"These are the things that result in change of temperature. Certainly pollution and a variety of other things," Polk said.

Typically you need a lot of up-front capital to finance installation of a solar electric system.

Under a solar power purchase agreement, or PPA, the capital requirement for building owners who have sunny roof spaces are removed.

Harnessing the energy of the sun is Polk's effort to make sure the only footprints he leaves behind are the ones made by the shoes he sells.

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