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Solar Energy Industry Maintains Footing Amid Recession

Amid the economic slump, there may be a silver lining for solar energy businesses that have withstood the recession so far. NewsHour special correspondent Spencer Michels reports.

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  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    From the hills of Berkeley, California, the solar revolution looks as though it's in full swing. Two teams of installers for a young firm called Sungevity work every day, mounting photovoltaic solar panels on roofs, so the homeowners can provide most or all of their own electricity.

    Danny Kennedy, a longtime environmental activist, now is a business man, running the firm in a time of economic turmoil.

  • DANNY KENNEDY, Sungevity Solar:

    It's going great. Really, in the big-picture, long-term sense, the only way is up, because we need it. And this year might see a bit of a slowdown in the growth.


    Kennedy says costs of rooftop solar are coming down, partly because of strong competition. After federal tax credits and state rebates, installations average about $12,300, depending on the size.


    On most systems we're installing, we're seeing a three- to seven-year payback period.

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