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Potential Public Safety Power Shutoffs Spike Interest In Home Solar/Battery Systems On South Coast

It a situation that’s made a lot of people on the Central and South Coasts nervous. Could the power be going out soon as part of one of the precautionary blackouts intended to prevent brush fires? But, for some people it’s more of an academic question, because they have a green alternative.

Phil and Julia Maldonado of Goleta aren’t worried, because they have a backup. They installed a solar and battery system. They did it to turn to renewable energy, but at the same time it was insurance against the periodic blackout occurring in the area. Now, they’re glad they did, because it also gives them an alternative if they are hit by a Public Safety Power Shutoff.

The Maldonados are among the hundreds of homeowners in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties who have been helped through a solar and battery storage program run by the non-profit Community Environmental Council. 

April Price is the CEC’s Renewable Energy Program Manager. Price says the systems aren’t going to make you energy independent, but can result in a major reduction in your dependency on fossil fuels. She says the solar systems can cost about $10,000, and battery storage starts at around $4.000. But, the cost  depends on how much power you are trying to generate. There are also tax incentives which can result in major savings.

The CEC has been working on renewable energy programs for years. Price says giving people a backup during a planned power shutoff is just a sidebar benefit. People with the systems are being more green and in the long term saving money. The CEC has been swamped with calls from people interested in the systems, largely fueled by the threat of precautionary power shutdowns.

The non-profit is planning a pair of free Home Energy Storage Workshops to help educate people about the possibilities. The first one is Wednesday, October 30, at Ventura City Hall. It begins at 5:30 p.m.

Maldonado says the system in his Goleta home will take about 17 years to pay for itself. But, he says even now there are some months where the system generates enough power to more than cover what had been the monthly bill.

He admits the planned power shutoffs weren’t a factor when he and his wife put in a system in their Goleta home a year ago, but they are sure glad they have it now.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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