Santa Barbara homes going solar

"Watch your meter spin backwards"

Solar panels are going up in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Converting a house in Santa Barbara to solar energy is easier now with the help from the Community Environmental Council.

The Community Environmental Council (CEC) mission is to identify, advocate and raise awareness about the most pressing environmental issues in the Santa Barbara region. The CEC's Solarize program helps to make it easier and more affordable for people and business to install solar power.

April Price, the Renewable Energy & Efficiency Specialist at CEC, says that a lot of people don't know how easy and affordable it is to go solar.

"Through our Solarize Santa Barbara County program and also our Ventura County program, we really make it easier for homeowners to go solar. We talk you through the basics and then we introduce the savings and negotiated discounts," said Price.

Not only do people save money on their energy bill but they also receive federal tax credit.

"So the amount you would save by going solar really depends on the amount of money that you currently spend on your energy bill. So a lot of people size their solar system to off set 100% of their energy usage. And in that scenario you are looking to only end up paying $10 a month on your electric bill because you still have to pay Edison to maintain your connection to the grid," said Price.

Santa Barbara resident Michael Chiacos said that he went solar in his home four years ago because he wanted to do something good for the environment and save money. Chicacos also owns an all electric Chevrolet Volt.

"The solar costs about $7,000 and now I am driving on sunshine and I am powering my house and my car for the next 20-30 years. I think it was a really great investment," said Chicacos.

Price says that going solar in California has really been streamlined. Legislation has been passed to make it a lot easier and quicker.

Price says that the process to install solar takes about six to eight weeks.

Earlier this month the Santa Barbara City Council committed to transitioning 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2030.

"We are really, within that goal, the city will have to figure out a way to get 100% renewable energy to all of its residence, business, municipal operations on the grid," said Price.

Chiacos says that he is happy with his investment in renewable energy.

"Just having these panels up on your house that are making free money for you is a really cool feeling as well. I think it is not only the finances but it just makes you feel good every time you look at that. And i think it is just a reallly good thing to have," said Chiacos.

In Santa Barbara County, the CEC contracts with Brighten Solar Co. and Planet Solar Inc.

In Ventura County, the CEC contracts with California Solar Electric and Coastal Solar.

CEC is holding a 'Solarize' workshop on June 29 at 6 p.m. at 506 E. Haley St. in Santa Barbara.

Visit Community Environmental Council's website here.

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