Photo credit: Matt Perko
Keep your eyes peeled for new solar panels on the roofs of your neighbors. For the last 3 months, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) has been spearheading Solarize Santa Barbara, a solar group purchasing program for homeowners in Southern Santa Barbara County. The program made it easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar, and ended on August 15 with a grand total of 49 people signing contracts to install 205 kW of solar.
This means almost 50 individuals and families will have lower electricity bills, peace of mind that their cost of electricity will remain stable, and a lower environmental footprint.
One of the main goals of Solarize Santa Barbara was to increase the amount of renewable energy in south Santa Barbara County and the program accomplished just that. More importantly, the program raised the profile of solar in this community. People are talking about solar and realizing that it’s not as difficult as they thought.
We even met one couple who signed a contract at their first meeting; they had solar installed and their meter spinning backward in a month! While this timeline is faster than normal, it does show what is possible with a simplified process, dedicated homeowners and a responsive installer.
As part of Solarize Santa Barbara, CEC also offered workshops throughout the South Coast in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta. Over 75 people attended the workshops and learned about energy efficiency, conservation, and solar energy. Energy efficiency and conservation should always be the first step toward lowering electricity bills because it usually costs less to save energy than to make it. The workshops proved to be a great tool, helping people understand how energy is used, how to save money by reducing use, and how to take advantage of statewide rebates from Energy Upgrade CA.
In addition to helping people go solar, Solarize Santa Barbara has helped CEC further our mission. Included in the purchase price was a small one-time fee based on the size of the solar installation and paid by the installers directly to CEC. This fee will help the CEC continue to promote renewable energy in the Central Coast and be self-sustaining, with no additional cost to the homeowner.
While the program is over, the website for Solarize Santa Barbara is still live and offers plenty of tips for those interested in going solar: www.SolarizeSB.org.
If you are already a proud solarized homeowner, please visit our Facebook page and share your story – How long did the installation take? Any tips for those considering solar? What does your monthly bill look like? We’d love to hear from you.