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Published: Saturday, 10/3/2009

Wilkowski to offer plan to boost solar panel use

Wilkowski Wilkowski

Toledoans could solar-power their homes and boost the fledgling Toledo solar panel industry at the same time under a plan put forth by mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski.

Mr. Wilkowski, the endorsed Democrat on the Nov. 3 ballot, plans to unveil today at a home in Maumee his backing for a "solar special improvement district" in Toledo.

He's running for mayor against political independent Mike Bell.

"The technology started here. We are indeed the solar capital, but we won't continue to hold that position unless we promote the solar industry," Mr. Wilkowski said yesterday.

The news event and solar demonstration are set for 1 p.m. today at the home of Carol Bintz on Secluded Pines Drive, Maumee. The home is featured in the Green Energy Ohio "Solar Tour 2009."

A tour publication says Ms. Bintz's residence has a 4.3-kilowatt photovoltaic system that, combined with other energy-saving features, gives her almost zero net energy usage.

The Wilkowski proposal would make it easier for people to finance solar panels, solar water heaters, and the components to operate those systems.

The financing would come from assessments that would be placed on participating homes allowing repayment over 25 years. The Ohio General Assembly created the special districts in a law that takes effect Oct. 15.

Homeowners also would be able to get tax credits and grants that would offset the cost of the improvements.

"What this would do is create jobs by creating a demand for solar panels and creating the demand for the manufacture and installation. It's clearly what we should be investing in," Mr. Wilkowski said.

The University of Toledo was been home to ground-breaking research in solar cells, and the area has several businesses that make or are gearing up to make solar panels.

Mr. Bell said it sounds like a worthwhile idea, but noted that neither he nor Mr. Wilkowski could implement it until January.

"It's probably a very good recommendation for the current administration if they sense an immediate need," Mr. Bell said.

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