Chris Hess stands with a Simply Solar company truck at their latest solar installation project at Arlington Greens Golf Course in Granite City.

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BETHALTO - Chris Hess of the locally owned solar energy company Simply Solar appeared on Our Daily Show! on Riverbender.com to discuss what the company does, how he got his start in solar, and more.

After years of brokering electric and natural gas, Hess said he came to Illinois at the launch of the Illinois Shines program and was so impressed with the solar credits offered that he chose to stay and start his own solar business. He described the mid-career shift to solar as a “seamless transition.”

“I came up here to explore, and I never left. It’s a wonderful program,” Hess said. “Ameren literally pays customers to get solar put on their home, in addition to the federal tax credits.”

Hess noted that not all solar installation companies are equal; with Simply Solar, he aims to eliminate the risk of a home or business owner hiring the wrong company for the job.

“What we decided to do is do a couple different things well - not all solar companies do commercial well, not all of them do residential well,” Hess said. “I work with different installation companies to provide the best experience depending on the application of the project.”

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Hess later clarified Simply Solar does not install solar energy systems themselves - instead, they pair clients seeking solar with the right installation company for their project needs.

One of Simply Solar’s recent success stories is the Arlington Greens Golf Course in Granite City, where they facilitated the installation of a 260 kilowatt solar power system which Hess said will amount to a monthly power bill of just $30. Other projects include one in progress at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course, immediately followed by one at Nautilus Fitness Center.

“We’ve got hundreds of residential installs over the years,” Hess said. “We’ve been here a long time and we know how to navigate the process.”

He added that unlike some competitors from out of state, Simply Solar utilizes locally based, reputable installation companies. They also don’t give unrealistically short project timeline estimates; he said depending on the project, a typical installation lasts 90 to 120 days from “the day you sign the paperwork.”

Hess also said going solar may be more affordable than some think, and pays off through long-term energy savings.

“There’s a big misperception that solar is kind of a rich man’s toy,” Hess said. “For the longest time up until about five years ago, that was the impression. Most people were like, ‘Oh, I can’t afford solar, I’m just a little guy’ … but the fact is, they’ve made it affordable for just about everybody.

“The demographic really doesn’t matter. If people can just get over the fear of the unknown, have the conversation, and realize that the benefit of this thing is a 25 to 30-year benefit. If you can get down to $10 a month for the next 25 years on your electric bill, where is the bad in that?”

To learn more about Simply Solar, visit their website or Facebook page, or see the full interview with Hess at the top of this story or on Riverbender.com/video.

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