Who doesn’t dread that monthly moment of opening a mailbox or an inbox and finding a stack of bills waiting to be paid? Electricity bills, cable bills, phone bills, medical bills—like hungry young birds in a nest, they sit there silently peeping until their demands are met.
Ty Lewis, a city employee of Paso Robles, set out to eliminate or significantly reduce one of the more common ones in his pile: his electricity bill.
Ty and his wife, Sarah, had always tried to be fairly energy efficient, but still they had watched their electricity costs soar. Concerns over the growth of those costs and a desire to reduce their dependence on PG&E pushed Ty to investigate installing a solar panel system on his property, just south of Atascadero.
He sought an initial estimate, where he heard about the benefits of leasing solar panels. But something didn’t sit right. “We felt like we were being pushed into one of the lease programs. So, we decided to put the whole project on hold for a little bit to give us time to look into it further,” says Ty.
But then, Ty and Sarah saw advertisements in San Luis Obispo’s local newspaper, The Tribune, announcing the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize program, which migrates from region to region and was running at that time in San Luis Obispo. Intrigued, they attended one of the free educational workshops led by CEC’s Solarize Program Coordinator, Jefferson Litten, where they learned about solar technologies, solar financing options, and the Solarize group purchasing model. The process, similar to others found in Portland and Boston, streamlines the transition to solar power and offers a limited time, discounted price for local residents who switch to solar through the program. Motivated by what they heard, Ty and Sarah decided to purchase their own panels.
Ty, however, wasn’t just interested in supplying solar power to one house. His parents, Philip and Nina, live nearby on the same property, and by installing solar panels on their house too, Ty realized he was in a position to kill two birds with one stone. His parents expect to retire in the next six years, and Ty calculated they could likely pay off the panels before their retirement — thus eliminating a recurrent and increasingly expensive bill for them as well.
In February of 2014, with Solarponics’ help, they mounted the two systems totaling 8.25 kW on their roofs.
“Once we made the initial decision to install the panels, it was a very smooth process,” says Ty. “The Solarize program is great for peace of mind. You know that the solar installers have been vetted, that the pricing has already been negotiated, and that your concerns can be addressed right on the spot.”
He continues, “Most people are wary when they’re first considering installing solar panels. They don’t want to get taken, and they don’t want to overpay for their system. I think that whenever you can learn about your solar options in an environment where there’s no pressure, that’s a good thing. For that reason, I would highly encourage others to take advantage of CEC’s Solarize program.”