When President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate treaty, Fred Hunter was so angry that he took money from his retirement savings and bought a solar system for his small home in Santa Barbara with assistance from the World Business Academy’s Powering Paradise program. The free program offers consultations, contractor referrals, and project assistance to help homeowners and commercial property owners pursue their renewable energy goals.
“I have been wanting to go solar for decades. I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do something positive for the environment,” said Hunter. “Otherwise, what kind of retirement am I saving for?” Hunter also considers installing solar panels to be a good investment. “Having solar is an asset that increases the value of my home,” he said.
Hunter’s six-panel system powers his entire house; he has a zero energy cost most months, which will save him thousands of dollars over the life of his solar system. The excess power his solar panels generate during high production days are stored in the electric grid as credits, which he uses at nighttime and when his panels are generating less power.
For Hunter, saving money wasn’t his main goal, even though every solar system saves money over time. “I was motivated because of my values. For me it was about the happiness it gives me to look at the app on my phone and see how much power I’m generating,” he explained. “It just feels nice to know I’m neutral on my use of electricity from the grid and there are no fossil fuels going into the energy I use.”
“It’s really satisfying to know I am powering my world and doing my part for the environment,” Hunter concluded. “Having solar has made me more conscious of the energy I use and even more conservation minded than I was before.”
Powering Paradise is a “free to the public” service program of the World Business Academy. The program educates people about solar energy and backup power, and refers them to local resources so they can go solar or acquire an emergency power system for their home or business. Project Director Cynthia Wallace provides one-on-one consultation, and then refers people to local solar electrical contractors who provide free energy consultations and project estimates. The World Business Academy assists throughout the project to help keep things on track and make sure people receive high-quality service. The program is available in the Tri-Counties.
“When you install solar energy, you are reducing your carbon footprint and helping to fight climate change and global warming,” said Wallace. “It’s one of the best things you can do as an individual to help the environment and generations to come. For example, an average 4.5-kilowatt solar system generates enough power in its lifetime to prevent about 120,999 pounds of coal from being burned in a power plant.”
Sun Pacific Solar Electric, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, designed and installed Fred Hunter’s solar system. They have been in the solar business for more than 15 years, and a Powering Paradise affiliate for over two years. “We are proud to partner with the Powering Paradise program,” said Cecilia “Ceci” Villaseñor Johnson, Sun Pacific’s President and CEO. “The World Business Academy shares our goal of helping people understand their renewable energy options so they can make informed decisions about installing solar energy and backup power systems.”
“When you consider your choices, it just makes sense to go solar. It’s the right thing to do for your pocketbook and the environment,” Johnson said. “There is no other appliance you can purchase for your home that starts saving you money as soon as you turn it on.”
Photograph by Wesly Johnson.