The Sunshine State Gets Ready for a Solar Push

Part of Gov. Jeb Bush’s recently released energy plans call for more solar, but the state itself does little to encourage more solar construction. That is about to change.

Author and homeowner Ellie Whitney worries about global warming.

“The windows are very high quality, the highest quality window that you can get.”

So she has done what she could. She’s put in special windows, solar shields and solar energy. Her latest two electric bills for a 2,800 square foot house were less than $50 each.

“Most people would say that’s a miracle. “Well, right, but it’s not. You can do that with any house.”

Jeb Bush is riding in a hybrid vehicle these days. His energy plan calls for incentives to use more solar in construction. Yet at the same time, the industry codes the state uses for its own purchasing does not include a code for purchasing solar equipment.

Gov. Bush was surprised.

“Yes, it would surprise me. I didn’t know that, but we’re going to make tax incentives, we would clearly have to have a way to figure out how to make sure that people get credit for it.”

Adding solar hot water will cost you about $18 more a month on your mortgage, but it will save you $40 a month on your utility bill.

Some builders like Edie Ousley have reported trouble selling energy efficient houses because the initial costs are higher.

“In the past, they have not been demanding more energy efficient homes because they were more expensive.”

But with tax credits and soaring natural gas prices soaring, solar is becoming more competitive every day.

Solar equipment is already exempt from state sales tax and there is a new federal tax credit on the books for 2006 and 2007 for solar purchases.