South Buffalo homeowner looking for solar power’s missing piece

solarpower


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sunshine provides a source of renewable, or “green” energy, and has substantial benefits for those who invest in solar power systems: it can save money on your electric bill and offers significant tax breaks.

John Dunkle of South Buffalo has been trying to cash in solar power for almost two years, but keeps finding himself under a cloud at Buffalo City Hall. Now Dunkle is in the final stretch, and when he ran into another roadblock, he put in a Call 4 Action, again.

When Dunkle contacted News 4, last January he was frustrated that he had already been trying for 6 months to install solar panels on his house, but the city would not allow it.

“I had the neighbors cut down the trees on the side, so it would not interfere with the sun,” Dunkle said at the time, “It is all wide open now–ready to go. All I need is the solar panels.”

John changed contractors and 8 months later, he now has solar panels on his roof, with all of the wiring and hardware in place. Dunkle hired a new contractor that seemed to have a better grasp of city regulations for installing solar power systems.

The solar operation seems to be ready to go, which could mean big savings on John’s utility bill, by generating electricity and reversing its flow back through the meter to the power company.

In fact, all John has to do is flip a switch and the solar panels would start generating the power he needs to light his home, and send the surplus into the power grid. Problem is, without a certificate from the city it could also be costly.

“If I turn it on then they are going to charge me for the electric going back and the electric coming in,” said Dunkle. His contractor cautioned him he would even have to pay for the electricity he produces, without a city permit.

John’s solar contractor put in the application for the permit weeks ago, but nothing has happened. That is because the solar permit has two parts—for the general construction of the hardware and a licensed electrician had to sign off on the wiring and electrical work.

Dunkle contacted his electrician to sign off on the permit application, and he could get it inspected by the end of the week. The South Buffalo homeowner said he is just sorry he missed out on the solar benefits during one of Buffalo’s sunniest summers in recent history.

“Oh man, it would have really cranked back a lot of electric. My house is in the sun all day long.”

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