Lakeview resident says power bill is down to zero

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on April 18, 2010 at 4:39 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 18 at 7:43 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- For the past several months, Lakeview homeowner John Hunt has seen his electric bill plummet.

"Our last two months electric bill was zero -- and the electric company actually owes us 584 kilowatt hours," Hunt said.

After Hurricane Katrina flooded his home with several feet of water, Hunt said he and his family opted to rebuild -- and later, installed a series of solar panels on the roof.

"We're interested in green alternatives for energy and also we looked at it as a potential to save money in energy use," he said.

Hunt said he was able to afford the $78,000 solar set up because of several advantages: A 30 percent federal tax credit and a 50 percent state of Louisiana tax credit, which is one of the highest offered by any state. Then, there was also the help Hunt received from the San Francisco-based "One Block Off The Grid" (1BOG)

"What "One Block Off The Grid" does is group together homeowners that are interested in solar energy and then negotiate a discount for them," said CEO Dave Llorens of 1BOG.

"One Block Off The Grid" said it helps homeowners save an average of 15 percent on their solar panels. This week, they plan to bring that concept back to New Orleans. In a previous effort, 33 homeowners here joined in and negotiated a cheaper solar panel installation cost, through Tucker Crawford's company, South Coast Solar.

"You know, post-Katrina, we're trying to help homeowners and the general public think greener and to think more responsible, to rebuild in a more responsible and sustainable way," Crawford said.

"If you take people that are currently rebuilding their homes and just simply present to them the fact that solar energy is subsidized 80 percent in the entire state of Louisiana, than a lot more of those people would add it to their project," Llorens said.

It is a unique position for Louisiana homeowners, and one that John Hunt said is paying off for him.

"It's going to take us probably, I estimate, seven to eight years to recoup our $13,000 investment," he said. "Zero electricity bill is a good thing."

For more information on the "One Block Off the Grid" program, go to 1bog.org

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