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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

Susan and Frederick Powell had been considering switching their home to solar electricity for several years. However, it was not until the Powells heard about the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize Santa Barbara program that they began to seriously examine options for solar electricity at their home. After the Powells learned of the benefits provided through the Solarize SB group purchasing program, they were quick to act and signed up for Solarize the day after the program launched. As Susan describes, “We were impressed by the reduced rate for solar panels and the vetting process for solar installers. So we just said to ourselves, ‘Well why not? Let’s do it!'”

The next day, the Powells met with REC Solar, one of the vetted Solarize SB installers, to discuss and design the optimum system for their roof and electrical needs. They signed a contract that same day. Within five weeks, the Powells began enjoying the benefits of solar power from a 2.88 kW system installed on their red tile roof. The Powells were the first homeowners to install solar in the inaugural Solarize Santa Barbara program. Additionally, the City of Santa Barbara recognized the Powells and REC Solar with a 2011 Solar Design Recognition Award for the integration of their solar array into a tile roof.

Susan says the primary motivation to go solar was the environmental benefit. “Going solar is a pretty major thing to be able to do for the environment. It does a lot more than many of the things that we do on a regular basis like recycling.” In addition to her “green-motivation”, Susan notes that the decision to go solar had to make economic sense. “Over time, the decision to go solar offers great financial savings to us.” Through Southern California Edison’s net metering program, “in the summer our electric bills go to zero and we actually get credit for the excess electricity we create.”

The Powells experience with Solarize Santa Barbara demonstrates how quick and easy going solar can be. Once they signed the contract, the system was designed, permits were approved and their solar panels were installed within just 39 days. Reflecting back, Susan says “I do think the program really served as an impetus for us to move forward. We were already planning on going solar, but the program made it so easy!”

The nitty gritty

System size: 2.88 kW DC STC
Type of system: 12 REC 240-watt PE modules and SMA 3000S 240v Inverter
Installer: REC Solar
Estimated solar production/year: 4,015 kWh
Baseline utility energy use: 6,000 kWh
Portion of electricity demand met by system: 67%
Average utility cost at time of installation: 16 cents/kWh
Average cost of solar electricity over 20 years: 12 cents/kWh
Cost of system before rebate and tax credit: $16,856
State Rebate: $2,600
30% Federal Tax Credit: $4,276
Final Cost to Homeowner: $9,980

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