According to the Daily Sound, thanks to Solarize Santa Barbara, Mike and Mary Lee Hopkins’ electric bill went from $400 a month to a quarter of the payment size. In addition, the Hopkins carbon footprint shrunk along with their expenses. The Hopkins added 15 solar panels to their roof and this dream for Mike Hopkins became a reality.
Solarize is a project the Community Environmental Council created to bring more affordable solar energy to South County residents. The project is set up similar to the popular website Groupon. Solarize evaluated a list of competing companies, and after, picked two that would best satisfy quality and cost concerns.
Mike Hopkins said he was extremely satisfied with Sun Pacific Solar Electric, the company he chose through Solarize. He explains that the company could have sold him a much larger solar energy system, but instead, encouraged him to first take other measures to cut energy consumption. Mike spent $11,000 after rebates. Systems can cost up to $50,000 and typically go for twice what Hopkins paid, said Megan Birney, renewable energy specialist for the CEC.
Both Birney and Mike Hopkins stressed that now is the time to go solar. “It is still expensive,” he said, “but if you have the money it has finally gotten to the point where it is a good investment.” Some advice he gives those who are interested in the system is: “Don’t just put the biggest solar panel on as possible, make your house as energy efficient as possible first.”
Birney hopes that the efforts Solarize has made to educate the public will see the expansion of solar energy in Santa Barbara’s future. The group has held three workshops for the public and will had its last gathering on July 21. “The more people talk about it, the more they understand. It’s really exciting,” she said.
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