Solar panels become more popular in Florida

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida voters last week shot down Amendment 1, which dealt with controlling solar power and was largely funded by utility companies. While the amendment failed, it has raised awareness for solar in the state.

Channel 9’s Jamie Holmes found out there’s more awareness and cheaper prices are encouraging more people to turn to the sun.

Last August, Michael Cohen was paying a $100 a month for electric. He’s now went solar and basically paying zero.

"I'm making $100-$140 a month,” said Cohen. "It's like printing money on your roof.”

Cohen is part of a solar co-op where residents in Orange County have pulled together to negotiate cheaper prices for solar installation. The latest version of the group has boomed in size since the Amendment 1 hype with 300 people across the county buying in bulk to save at least 20 percent off install.

"It's less than you could get by going out yourself and contacting a solar installer. I don't think you'll be able to beat this price,” said Lori Cunniff, Orange County environmental manager.

The raised awareness of solar options in the state are now combining with far cheaper prices, and more people have turned to solar in the last few months.

Solar install is about 60 percent cheaper than it was five years ago, and utility companies like Duke are seeing some 100-customers a month go solar.

"I get a lot of questions from my neighbors now. I believe that came about from all the publicity on Amendment 1 and was it a good thing or a bad thing,” Cunniff said.

The technology still isn't cheap. It cost Cohen $11,000 and will take him at least five years to get back the return on his investment. Still, he said there's nothing sweeter than his monthly electric bill.

"Oh, it's exciting. It's like Christmas time every month,” Cohen said.

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