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Local

First solar power permit issued in Morris

'This is a really big deal'

The city of Morris will get its first solar powered home.

Earlier this month, members of the city council unanimously approved a permit for a homeowner to install solar panels. It’s the first application for solar power on a residence inside the city’s corporate limits.

The home on Walden Crescent in Morris belongs to David Punke. The permit means Punke can install a roof-mounted solar energy system.

It’s a change to energy production and consumption that experts say is an emerging trend.

“That is a really big deal. You can expect to see more of these applications coming thorough,” Ann Golseth of Sunbadger Solar, the company installing Punke’s system, told the members of the city council. “Solar is expanding very rapidly in Illinois, there are very robust incentives from the state and the federal government right now, so there will be more and more people who submit applications to go solar.”

Golseth said that for homes that utilize solar panels, holding excess power in a battery is an expensive addition. So, instead, the homeowners will utilize something called “grid tied solar energy systems.” Golseth said permits for those are the types that the Morris City Council can expect to see in the near future.

“Homeowners get paid the retail value for the excess that they put through the grid,” she said. “All of our electrical plans are made per licensed electricians and we follow all of the protocols for the utilities in terms of getting that system interconnected properly so that everything is safe.”

The system runs from the roof to the main service panel, so anything that is electric runs off the solar power.

Golseth said that since batteries are expensive now, more people will opt for grid tie systems.

“What this is going to allow your constituents to do is be able to control their electricity costs in their home or business for the next two to three decades,” Golseth said. “They’re going to be able to generate their own power instead of having to pay increasing rates from utilities. So, that’s part of why you’ll see so many more applications. And also because of incentives, our customers are getting into their solar for 50% to 80% what it used to cost. It’s incredibly affordable right now.”

The city council approved two measures related to the issue: a conditional use permit for installation of the roof-mounted system and a zoning variance to allow the system to cover more than 25% of the home’s roof.

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