Thinking about going solar? New program offers homeowners a deal

dsneed@thetribunenews.comAugust 7, 2013 

REC Solar employees install solar panels at a home in Arroyo Grande in 2010.

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune

Two Central Coast nonprofits have teamed up to provide a three-month group purchasing program for homeowners interested in installing residential solar electric systems.

Called Solarize San Luis Obispo County, the program is offered by the Economic Vitality Corporation of San Luis Obispo and the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara and offers homeowners a streamlined purchasing process and savings through a group purchasing price from two local installers, REC Solar and Solarponics.

The program is available for homeowners through Nov. 1. Similar programs have been conducted in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and helped more than 140 homeowners switch to solar power.

The program benefits homeowners by offering installation by two vetted installers who have agreed to offer special pricing during the program.

“Many past Solarize customers comment on the peace of mind they gain knowing that their installer was vetted by a committee and the certainty of receiving a fixed group purchase price,” said Jefferson Litten, Solarize program coordinator.

Three free workshops will be offered for homeowners to learn about the program. They will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 13, at the Atascadero Pavilion, 9315 Pismo Ave., Atascadero; 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 14, at the Elks Lodge, 222 Elks Lane, San Luis Obispo; and 7 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 5, at Portuguese Hall, 707 Huasna Road, Arroyo Grande.

Not everyone supports the program, however. John Ewan, owner of Pacific Energy Co. of San Luis Obispo, questions whether the program is really needed. Of the 12 solar installers invited to bid, only two applied.

“I question the ability of other contractors to work in the market during those three months,” he said. “It promotes two businesses above the others.”

The purpose of the program is to benefit the community by growing the solar market as a whole and raising its profile in the community, backers say.

“Going solar will help homeowners save money, support local businesses and help the environment by increasing the amount of renewable energy in the county,” said County Supervisor Adam Hill.

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