-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV
SOLARIZE VENTURA: Power your home with clean renewable energy When you turn on a light, work at the computer, watch television, or blend up your favorite fruit smoothie, you may not think about the fact that all these tasks require energy. The production and flow of energy to your home and work place requires complex infrastructure that requires ongoing maintenance. Over time, this upkeep of energy systems and operations translates into cost increases on your energy bill.
Moving forward, how can you possibly ensure your electricity costs will stay the same or even decrease over time? There’s a simple, affordable solution. On April 17, 2014, underneath the solar panels at Patagonia’s downtown Ventura headquarters, Community Environmental Council’s (CEC) in partnership with the City of Ventura announced the new “Solarize Ventura” program. The program, which educates and assists residents with residential solar installations, is based on a successful model used in other communities across the country. “Residential solar is a great source of clean renewable energy,” said Joe Yahner, City of Ventura Environmental Services Supervisor. “Selecting a qualified solar contractor for an installation can be a daunting task for a homeowner and this program really simplifies the process. Through rigorous interviews and a careful selection process, two reputable local contractors, REC Solar and California Solar Electric, were selected to be the program’s solar installers. The program offers below market price installations for Ventura residents that sign up for the program between April 17 – July 19, 2014.” Purchase or Lease? A typical residential solar system can range from $7,000 to $20,000 per home and take approximately 4- 8 weeks to install. When purchasing a system, homeowners can often re-coop their investment within 5-7 years. Additionally, solar panels have a lifespan of approximately 25-30 years, and thus become an added value to any property. If a homeowner is reluctant to purchase a system, lease programs are available for no money down. With either method, homeowners will likely see immediate energy savings. “Roof type and size, sun exposure, electricity demand, and the size of one’s home can impact whether solar installation is a good fit,” added Yahner. “If a homeowner’s bill is only $30-40, solar probably isn’t the way to go. However, through this program, free home assessments are given to interested parties to determine if solar is a viable solution.” “Over the next three months,” said CEC’s Solarize Program Coordinator Jefferson Litten, “we’ll be hosting four free workshops in Ventura (listing times and locations at solarizeventura.org) to increase the public’s awareness of solar and how it functions so that residents completely understand the benefits of going solar and how going with a renewable energy solution positively impacts not only their pocketbook, but our community.” “We believe strongly in the environment and doing everything we can to protect it,” said City of Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann at the event. “Ventura has a tremendous track record with doing this at our own city buildings and now moving into the residences is really important. The fact that the program is vetted by this organization is and it’s very important that we can say with confidence, ‘here are two installers that you can trust. You can go to them and we know you’re going to get a very fair price and they’re going to do a good job.'”
“Energy costs are going to do nothing but go up,” said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett who attended the event, “getting onto this earlier will allow people to save money, it brings Ventura green jobs and makes us less energy dependent and allows us to decrease the use of fossil fuels which has so many environmental benefits. It’s truly a great program and I hope people will embrace it.”
The first Solarize Ventura workshop was held on Tuesday, April 29 from 6:30 to 8:00pm at Ventura City Hall. Over sixty Ventura residents attended. The second workshop at Sacred Heart Church attracted over 40 residents. The next workshop will be Tuesday, June 10, 2014 from 6:30-8:00pm at Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road.
Homeowners interested in going solar should contact Jefferson Litton at (805) 963-0583 or register at www.solarizeventura.org .