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Published May 24, 2011, 05:29 PM

First GF House Gets Solar Panels Through Energy Program

A new program is helping one family in Grand Forks save money on utility bills. Red River Valley Community Action is offering a program with energy-efficient alternatives for homeowners.

A new program is helping one family in Grand Forks save money on utility bills. Red River Valley Community Action is offering a program with energy-efficient alternatives for homeowners.

Traci Thompkins has lived in Grand Forks for more than 20 years and is the first person to take advantage of a new program.

"I have four children and a grandchild on the way. I'm always looking to save money, I mean who isn't I would think," Thompkins said.

With two new solar panels on the side of her house that perform well in colder climates, Thompkins will save money on her utility bills.

"I just can't wait to utilize them in their fullest. I have run them a little bit and they definitely pump out the heat," Thompkins said.

Red River Valley Community Action is offering a program called "Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers." It's available to homeowners in Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties.

"Not only can we do solar, but high-efficiency technologies like furnaces, water heaters, even geo thermal. So we have a couple different options for people," Clean Energy Coordinator Jason Schaefer said.

The program is funded by a federal grant. It's free to homeowners, but there are certain income limits. Those limits for Grand Forks residents start at an annual income of $35,750 for a household of one and go up from there.

"This is a solar air heating unit that'll save 20-percent off a heating bill, so it's going to be a nice supplemental heating source for this home," Schaefer said.

"I'm so glad I did it. I would recommend it to anybody," Thompkins said.

For more information and to see if you qualify, you can call Jason Schaefer at The Red River Community Valley Action Center at 701-746-5431 or visit the website www.rrvca.com

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