Group aims for Ojai residents to Solarize
By Shane Cohn 12/06/2012
Fifty homeowners in the Ojai Valley are in the midst of going solar.
Two months ago the inaugural launch of Solarize Ojai, a group purchasing program designed to make solar electricity more affordable to homeowners, set out to educate Ojai residents about the advantages of using solar energy in their homes.
With the program concluding on Friday, Dec. 7, 50 different residences have signed up to learn more about the program that offers reduced installation rates by local companies during the two-month program, which program coordinators say is a success.
“In Ojai, people have high electricity bills,” said Jefferson Litten, Solarize Ojai program coordinator. “People are running their air conditioning a lot in the summer, and going solar can save you money quickly.”
The Community Environmental Council (CEC), a Santa Barbara environmental awareness group, teamed up with Ojai Valley Green Coalition (OVGC) and modeled the program on flourishing solarize projects in Portland, Ore., and Boston, Mass.
In 2011 and 2012, 80 homeowners in Santa Barbara went solar when the CEC offered the discounted program.
“Our biggest goal is to become a net zero community,” said Deborah Tendrey, executive director of OVGC, referring to the community generating as much energy as it uses. “We’d like to see community step up more to the idea and take those initiatives.”
The program offers installation rates at $4.40 per watt for the basic system. Litten said that the average price per watt in Ventura County this past year was $6.20. While residential energy use is on a case-by-case basis, Litten explained that an electricity bill of $300 per month can be reduced to $50 per month with solar panels, with a return on the investment in seven years.
Litten said CEC is also planning, eventually, to offer the program in Ventura and Oxnard.
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