Bay County homeowners choosing solar energy to power homes

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some Bay County homeowners want to let the sunshine in, and in some cases, cash in on solar energy.

Some say there's a reason Florida is called the Sunshine State. Sunny days are plentiful.

"This system on a sunny day in the summertime produces about 100 to 125-kilowatt hours per day," James Morris, owner of James Auto Center in Panama City said. "So my electric bill in the summertime is, of course, nothing."

Morris set up two solar panels around his business to save on his electric bill.

"When I use electricity off the deck it records it. When I produce more electricity it runs my meter backwards," Morris explained. "The name of the game is to produce more than you use. It doesn't always work that way."

The Franklin-Bay Co-op of Solar United Neighbors is educating people about the benefits of using solar power.

According to Solar United, property taxes are reduced by 80 percent for non-residential renewable energy units, like solar storage systems and solar water heaters.

"So I've increased my property value by $100,000, let's say that number," Morris said, "but I don't have to pay property tax on $100,000 because solar is exempt."

One owner of a local company specializing in solar electric systems says installation costs start at about $11,000. He says it can knock off up to 90 percent of your electric bill.

The next meeting for the Franklin-Bay co-op is on July 5th at the Bay County Public Library. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.