Frank Ploof has a meter at his house that shows how much power he is not buying from the Modesto Irrigation District.
Most of his electricity comes from the solar panels he installed on his roof early this year.
Ploof and other advocates are putting on a solar fair Sept. 28 in Modesto. The free event at the Church of the Brethren will give residents and small business owners a chance to learn what generating with the sun is all about.
Attendees can meet with solar installers and get information on financing, federal tax credits and incentives from MID and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
People who have placed systems on their roofs will talk about the experience. The church will show off its own panels.
The organizers invite people to bring in the last years electric bills, along with information on their roofs, such as shading and pitch, and see what might work for them.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimated that Modesto has 29,002 residential rooftops suitable for solar, but a tiny percentage have adopted the technology.
The fair is sponsored by SolarEverywhere, which advocates for residential solar in Stanislaus County, and Project Green at Modesto Junior College.
Ploof installed 30 panels totaling 7.5 kilowatts of capacity. He got about $6,000 from MID and about $7,500 in a tax credit to help with the roughly $25,000 cost. Even bigger savings await on his power bill.
Im going to break even in about four years, and then its basically free electricity or a minor charge, Ploof said. And its good for the environment.
Solar systems do not consume fossil fuels or pollute the air. Advocates see them as a key part of the effort against the climate change believed to be resulting from a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The systems help MID, PG&E and Turlock Irrigation District meet a state mandate for renewable energy. The Modesto district also buys power from a 155-acre project on McHenry Avenue, completed last year by SunPower Corp. of San Jose.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.