Solar Homes in Houston

Energy prices have been going up and some groups say the answer is alternative and renewable power. One item being considered in the state legislature would encourage the use of solar power on homes and businesses. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports one homeowner is not waiting for incentives.

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"There's the do good for the world issue and then there's the do good for me issue."

Attorney David Ronn figures he's paying ten to 15 percent more to build his home on the west side of town.

"I wanted to show people in Houston, Texas, because if you live in California or you live in Austin this isn't that big of a deal but in Houston, Texas, it is a bit of a big deal."

The house has other environmentally friendly elements in addition to the solar panels on the roof. When considering the cost to build, Ronn had estimates done on how much he'll be paying for power in the new, roughly 4,000 square foot house.

"They think we're going to end up with electric bills averaging around $200 a month so actually we are paying more in our 1,500 (square) foot condo."

Some lawmakers want to encourage others to do what Ronn has included in his new home. State Representative Garnett Coleman introduced a bill that would create a rebate program for homeowners who use solar panels for electricity. Coleman says it's established technology that can be used on new and established homes.

"The most important thing is we want everybody to know that whether you live in the hood or whether you live in the suburbs this should be just as common as that mini van in your driveway and that the future is not later, it's now."

Coleman points out that the solar panels are most effective at times when some of the greatest demands for electricity are placed on a house ... that is when the sun is beating down on the roof of a house. The rebate program would be funded through a 65 cent surcharge on electricity bills. He says the idea is to make the solar technology more readily accessible.

"I envision this technology being on affordable apartments to help lower the cost of utilities or on affordable homes. We're not talking about something only for high end users. That's not the objective here."

Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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