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Rent the sun's power

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Have you ever thought about putting solar panels on your house? If the thought of spending thousands to install and maintain a system holds you back, you are not alone.

By the end of this year, a company called Citizenre plans to offer environment-conscious homeowners in the Triangle the opportunity to harness solar power without a huge front-end investment. The firm manufactures the equipment, installs and maintains it for each customer, charging monthly fees that are similar to their current electric bills.

Citizenre Raleigh representative Les Taylor says there has been a lot of interest locally.

There is no work involved for customers. The company sends employees out to examine and discuss a year's worth of electric bills to get a better idea of each customer's needs. Then, a system is designed specifically for each house. They install, maintain and automatically monitor the system. If something goes awry, they'll send a repair crew out for free.

Citizenre offers customers a flat monthly rate for the life of a 1-, 10- or 25-year contract. The calculator on the company's Web site tells me if I were to switch to solar, I would save a little more than $365 over five years—but in 25 years, I could save $12,682.Check it out at renu.citizenre.com.

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