As the summer winds down, so does time to take advantage of the sun. The prime days of tanning are running out, and so are chances to get a highly discounted solar panel system through the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize Santa Barbara program. Although the date for signing a contract has been extended to August 15, the last day for those seeking to register for the program that reduces solar panel installation cost is still July 31.
Since the beginning of May, the CEC has been working with two specially selected solar companies, REC Solar and Sun Pacific Solar Electric, to remove some of the common roadblocks to solar investment for Santa Barbara residents. The program has already helped 23 homes sign contracts for solar panel installations at discounted prices. Solarize Santa Barbara drops the price for regular cells to $5.60 per watt (saving $1.45 per watt compared to usual market prices) and the price for premium cells to $6.30 (saving 90 cents per watt), which becomes quite a significant portion of money when homeowners are installing the standard four to eight kilowatts worth of solar panels. The allure of cheaper solar panels from trusted, preapproved companies is accompanied by the Solarize program’s donations (15 cents per watt installed) to the CEC to help continue the development of renewable energy in Santa Barbara.
Susan Powell and her husband were the first homeowners to take advantage of Solarize Santa Barbara, and for a family not actively looking to go solar, the program served as a great catalyst for “solarizing” their home. “I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research, “ Susan noted. “The research was kind of done for you. … We really didn’t have to do anything.”
Solarize simplified the process to a matter of signing a contract once the Powells knew they were prepared to make the investment, and now they are now a solar household hoping to save what they spent before their solar panels have made it halfway through their usable lifetimes. “For middle-class households, it’s hard to do something really important for the environment,” Susan said. “But going solar is a major step.”
For Barbara Godley, the Solarize deal was an opportunity to install a new set of solar panels after changing homes. Like Susan, she claimed, “Its been a breeze … They do it all for you!” Although she acknowledges it may be late in her life to invest in new solar panels, she’s sure it’s for a good cause. She has seen REC Solar expand from a single office, to having around 600 employees since the first time she bought solar panels, and she’s enthusiastic to be “part of the trend” of renewable energy in the area. She hopes that others will make the same decision she did, encouraging them that, “The time is now!”
For more information, go to the Unitarian Society on Thursday, July 21, between 6:30 and 8 p.m. for the last Solarizing Santa Barbara Workshop, or go to to this Web site.