Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Solar Panels Heating up with Homeowners in County

Thanks to federal, state and even Ameren Missouri rebates and other incentives, an increasing number of solar panels and arrays are being installed on homes throughout St. Louis County. The systems generate electricity fed into the home's power grid to supplement usage from the utility company.

Unincorporated St. Louis County and many cities allow them, though permits are often required.

However, some neighbors have questioned how future installations will look, and some cities are investigating whether to allow them.

Denish and Gaitry Gangasingh, who since 1999 have lived in the Wynfield Pointe subdivision in Des Peres, had 40 solar panels installed on their roof early in April.

"We had a solar power happy hour after they went in on the same day as the Good Friday tornado," Gaitry said. "We wanted to be a little more environmentally friendly, because we also do a lot of composting and recycling," she said. The family originally wanted to have the panels installed a year and a half before.

"The price then was really prohibitive but our provider, StraightUp Solar, helped us find federal grants, and we went ahead when it looked feasible for us," Gaitry said.

A federal rebate provided the family with $30,000 off the $45,000 starting cost. Des Peres required a permit for the installation.

"Since the installation on the back roof, we've saved a good 50 percent on our electricity bills," Gaitry said. "Also, if the panels generate extra energy stored at the end of each month, Ameren reimburses us," she said. The flat panels haven't changed the roofline.

"The only comments we've gotten from neighbors are that they're thinking of doing it too," Gaitry said.

Meanwhile, Frontenac is still deciding how to control panel installation.

City Administrator Bob Shelton said the only request the city has received for solar panels has been from Tom and Becky Minogue in Lynnbrook subdivision off South Spoede Road.

They were turned down for a building permit by the design review commissioner to allow panels on the front of their house last year.

The city's planning and zoning commission upheld the turndown but also has devised some recommendations on solar panels and creations of some standards for them at homes.

The Board of Aldermen last month recommended changes which were sent back to the commission for further review.

"All recommendations have been that there is no concern about solar panels not visible from the street, but the Minogues said their best reception would call for panels to be on the front of the roof," Shelton said.

Gail Choate, land use manager for the department of planning, said that St. Louis County zoning laws allow for solar panels on rooftops at homes in the unincorporated county.

Dave Kasl, assistant division manager with the code enforcement division of the county's public works department, said panels require a permit since there are structural requirements on, for instance, roof anchorage to resist wind. Also, a second electrical permit is required for panels that generate electricity versus a system that, for instance, just assists a hot water system.

Dr. Joe Gira installed a 44-panel solar array a couple of weeks ago in a corner of the back yard at his Town & Country home on Claymark Drive after he moved in in March.

The city's Board of Aldermen studied the proposal carefully after a neighbor in an adjoining neighborhood was concerned about the potential appearance.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/metro/news/article_9d5a20b3-db20-5038-a5fe-1f43e36c1e0b.html#ixzz1SZHLOB9c


  1. Of course, there is a lot to do with solar panels before they become a device that is "easy on the eye". Let's face it, they aren't the most pleasing things to see strapped to the side or top of a house. I have heard about designers getting together though to create a bee-hive effect solar panel which in some cases will make solar panels look so much better.

  2. This Info is obsolete. Contradicts published on StLToday.com on the 17th -

    View current News:

    "Reversal on rebates stings solar industry" - Missouri: