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April 18, 2013  BY Connor Relyea

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Jefferson City’s Missouri Solar Applications, the largest solar company in mid-Missouri, specializes in the design and installation of solar panels that provide solar electricity, solar hot water, and efficient lighting. Over the past five years since the company opened they have installed over 100 solar electricity systems across Missouri.

Vaughn Prost, CEO of Missouri Solar Applications, was one of the founding members of the company. Prost emphasizes that, with the rising cost of electricity in Missouri, solar electricity and energy efficiency can help lock in utility costs for customers. “People who use [solar arrays] will be able to generate power for less than what it costs now,” Prost said.

Solar energy is a clean and safe alternative to fossil fuels. Solar panels produce electricity directly from electrons freed from the sun. Solar electricity systems never run out of fuel and dramatically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Missouri Solar Applications builds systems to last, as well. According to the Missouri Solar Application website, their systems can have a warranty up to 25 years and will generally last well beyond that.

Missouri Solar Applications has also begun solar hot water installations, which uses solar panels and a solar tank. Water is pumped through the tank and is heated by heat transfer with a metal tube found inside.

Solar hot water systems provide a unique investment opportunity, with a substantial rate of return, as well. According to Prost, the rate of return for an investment in solar hot water systems can be as high as 10 and 20 percent. “There is no product out there that you can invest in with that high of a guaranteed rate of return,” Prost said.

Solar power is becoming more attractive each day, with tax incentives and benefits for those who purchase solar panels. In 2008, Missouri legislature passed Proposition C, or the Clean Energy Initiative, that established Missouri’s electric companies to either “generate or purchase at least 2 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources,” according to the Ameren Missouri website.

Missouri then brought in the Solar Energy System Incentives Program, which allows for rebates for those who have net-metered solar energy systems on their properties. The rebate stands at $2.00 per DC watt with a maximum rebate of $50,000 for customers of Ameren Missouri and Kansas City Power and Light, according to Prost.

With a federal tax credit the installation of solar energy systems is cheaper for Missouri Solar Application’s customers. The credit can cover 30 percent of the cost of a solar installation, making it more affordable for customers to invest in efficient energy.

Missouri Solar Applications aims to work with clients to show them that their energy bills are not fixed costs. “It is possible to be a net-zero building,” Prost said. “You just have to start with energy efficiency.”