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Solar panels could save you hundreds of dollars a month, but is the initial investment worth the cost in the long run?

In the past few years, Florida’s solar industry has started to take off.
“We’re building almost a nuclear power plant worth of solar every year in the state of Florida,” Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center James Fenton said.

Experts said the boost is due to the lowering costs.

“The price of solar has gotten to the point where it’s cheaper than combined-cycle natural gas plants, and this turnover, this change or this grid parody if you will, occurred about in 2015,” Fenton said. The change has turned something people once saw as a luxury into a bargain.

“They measured, looked at my roof, thought about where the panels would be, looked at I guess two or three previous Duke bills and told me what the cost would be, told me how I could finance it and I signed up right away,” Bonnie Danner said.

Danner had solar panels installed on her roof about a year ago.

“It’s amazing when you start seeing electric bills that are so much smaller and even zero for the electricity,” Danner said.

Solar companies said right now, people are in the mass adoption phase, where thousands of people are flocking to solar as an easy, clean alternative.

“We’re doing an average of maybe 10 installations a week right now, and I would say 10 years ago, we were doing one installation a month,” President of Superior Solar Richard Smith said.

Solar energy is not just on top of homes. Solar panels are popping up across the state on thousands of acres as utility companies continue to build more and more solar farms.

“We’re building lots of these fields. A smaller utility might be building five fields, and that’s a lot, where at FPL (Florida Power & Light), they can build 100 fields, and that’s still a very small amount,” Fenton said.

Experts said solar energy is one of the cheapest options for utility companies and is the only form of energy in Florida that doesn’t have to be imported.

“The advantage of solar, of course, is that I have no problem with solar spilling all over our beaches. That’s what we want it to do, OK? It’s a fuel that if you spill it, nobody complains,” Fenton said.

As things like electric cars and clean energy become more popular, experts said they expect solar energy will not only take over the industry but revolutionize lives.

“I envision that we’ll have this building here where we’re at right now covered with solar on the roof, my employees will all drive into work in their electric cars, they’ll fill them full of solar electrons while making plenty, then they’ll drive their car home, they’ll plug it into the wall and the house will steal electricity from the car and turn on the air conditioner that they just turned on,” Fenton said.