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      Midlands man embraces solar energy

      Donald Monson's solar panel array in Eastover.

      COLUMBIA (WACH)-- More people are finding ways to go green these days. Donald Monson is one of them.

      He's installed a 50-foot freestanding solar panel array on his Eastover property. Now that it's up and running, Monson will sell the power generated from it to a local electric company.

      "I know a little about electricity and it seemed like the perfect thing to try," says Monson.

      It cost Monson around $23,000 to install the system. He expects it to pay for itself within five years.

      On a much larger scale, USC is leading the way to a greener community.

      The university's "Green Quad" residence hall uses 45% less energy and has a preheated solar water collection system on its roof.

      "That provides hot water for 502 students and savings of about $30,000 a year in hot water heating," says Michael Koman, director of the Office of Sustainability.

      When it comes to homeowners wanting to become more environmentally friendly, Koman says there are ways folks can make solar energy work for them. He says if you're willing to make the investment, you could actually make a profit off solar power eventually.

      Monson is excited about the savings he'll get from his system, but more importantly, he's glad he's helping erase his carbon footprint.

      He says, "Every time I look around, it feels good to know we've done the right thing."