Solarize SLO County can help homeowners install solar electric systems

For the second year in a row, two nonprofits have teamed up to offer a 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 Corp. of San Luis Obispo and the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara. It gives homeowners a streamlined purchasing process and savings through a group purchasing price from two local installers: Solarponics and Electricraft Inc.

The program is accepting applications through Sept. 15. Last year, 107 installations were made through the program.

Free workshops are being offered for homeowners to learn about the program. They are being held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 21 at the Elks Lodge, 222 Elks Lane, San Luis Obispo; July 23 at Centennial Park in the Live Oak Room, 600 Nickerson Drive, Paso Robles; and Aug. 7 at Portuguese Hall, 707 Huasna Road, Arroyo Grande.

Also for a second year, the program has drawn the criticism of John Ewan, owner of Pacific Energy Co. of San Luis Obispo. He said the program unfairly benefits the two participating businesses.

“The EVC is supposed to benefit every business in the county, but they are picking winners and losers,” he said.

Mike Manchak, president of EVC, said all the local solar companies that have applied to be vendors in the program have been accepted. Solarponics and Electricraft were the only applicants, and Ewan did not apply. Also, information about other solar installers is available at the free workshops, Manchak said.

“The program stimulates the solar power market and motivates people to get solar,” he said.