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Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009 04:26 am

Time to renew

Solar and wind energy expert to speak in Springfield

If people can spend $40,000 to add a garage to their home or $10,000 on a new swimming pool, Mark Bauer says, why not invest in solar or wind power?

“We drop money into our homes for things that we put value on that have no return on investment,” he says. “If you put money into energy generation, you’re not only assured to get that money back, you are also contributing to the good of our nation at the same time.”

Bauer owns Bauer Power Inc., a Michigan-based renewable energy firm that recently opened a satellite office in Peoria. He’ll be on hand in Springfield Saturday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to discuss the benefits of solar and wind energy, as well as state and federal tax credits residents can receive for installing these systems in their homes.

Bauer plans to highlight Illinois renewable energy rebate programs. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state has handed out 165 rebates since 2007 (a dramatic upturn from the 37 rebates given in 2002).

He’ll also talk about a bill signed by former President George W. Bush that grants federal tax credits — including a 30 percent credit for qualified solar water heating and small wind energy systems — for energy-efficient home improvements made in 2009. Bauer says he expects federal incentives to increase under President Barack Obama, who has already inserted $32 billion in renewable energy program funding into the proposed $825 billion federal economic stimulus plan.

Additionally, Bauer will explain the fundamentals of the grid-tiered solar system and solar water heater and how much they cost versus how much they save.

“The solar system they own, it’s an appreciated asset on the house versus an electric bill, which they don’t own, and there’s never a return on that investment,” Bauer says. “We have been duped into thinking that renting our power and contributing to a dirty generation source is good for our society.”

Both seminars begin at 10 a.m. in Plaza B at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s free to attend, but seating is limited. Bauer Power Inc. asks that attendees RSVP to Sara Leigh at (309) 243-1500.

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