Winter Springs, Fla. (March 10, 2010)- It’s the battle over being green. A Winter Springs homeowner installed thousands of dollars in solar panels on his home, but the city’s eco-friendly laws wouldn’t let him cut down the trees at his home so the sun could shine on the panels. Now, the city has changed policy and the homeowner sees the light.
Direct sunlight is what makes the $26,000 in new solar panels atop Nancy Riordan’s house worth the price. Yet, it’s what Riordan says Winter Springs almost didn’t let her have. “We’re trying to do what’s right for the environment. We thought everybody would give us the thumbs up for it,” she said.
Riordan installed the panels in January after years of $600 Progress Energy bills. The hitch was a front yard full of trees, trees the city tries to protect. The city told the Riordans they couldn’t remove trees unless they planted replacements there or paid $250 dollars apiece for replanting elsewhere. They disagreed to both options on principle. “It felt like we were at a standstill,” Riordan said.
But this week, the city relented. Commissioners changed policy Monday, allowing tree removal for solar devices and allowing the Riordans to move forward. “The solar energy is captured with the 18 panels that now sit in direct sunlight on this roof,” Riordan explained. It’s transferred through wires in metal casing to a box where it’s converted to electricity the family can use. The family’s latest energy bill was less than $200; excess electricity is sold back to Progress Energy at a profit.
“You can fight city hall. People say you can’t fight it. Put your mind to it and you can,” Riordan said. With the panels, she says they’re fighting, and winning, against the energy company, too. Eventually, the family expects to capture enough solar energy to sell some of their electricity back to Progress Energy at a profit.
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