Timeline of Solar Panel/Power Development
Here is a link to a wikipedia timeline on PVs. I took the following picture, of what appears to be the remnants of Carter-era solar panels the other day:
Here in St. Louis the PV (photo-voltaic) market is growing rapidly, thanks in large part to incentives and tax credits. Contemporary PV installations look more like this:
This is a flat - roof office building above and a typical residential installation below.
http://www.ameren.com/Solar/Pages/RebatesandFunds.aspx is the link to Ameren's rebate programs. A google search for solar in St. Louis will hook you up with some good contractors.