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      Tax incentives help residents go green

      Debra Whitmore of Chapin is the first Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative's customer to produce her own energy.

      In South Carolina, taxpayers can get a 25% tax credit to install a solar-energy or small hydropower system. The federal government is also offering similar incentives.

      When Chapin TMs Debra Whitmore moved from California to South Carolina, she saw a window of opportunity.

      I am brand-new to South Carolina, but I already feel like I am giving back to the community, says Debra Whitmore, because I am giving them some of my energy.

      Whitmore is the only resident on her block with solar panels and is a Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative TMs first interconnected customer, meaning she generates her own power.

      Whitmore took advantage of both the state and federal tax credits, bringing her $31,000 solar panel purchase and installation to around $14,000.

      Now is really the time to make those upgrades to your home while free money is available," said Josh Boltinhouse of the U.S. Green Building Council.

      Whitmore will save anywhere from $1,200 to $1,700 a year in electric costs.

      Andrew Streit of Sunstore Solar says the market is slowly growing with people like Whitmore.

      I think a lot of people are interested in energy independence seeing the country as a whole, move towards clean energy or a low-carbon economy, said Andrew Streit.

      Whitmore admits the upfront cost for going off the grid was steep, but adds the feeling of providing her own energy is priceless.