Craig O’Hare

 

It’s time to “Solarize Santa Fe!” The city and county of Santa Fe have embarked on a cooperative public outreach campaign to promote the benefits of solar power to homeowners and businesses. The “Solarize Santa Fe” initiative has two components: 1) a marketing and advertising campaign to increase public awareness on the cost-effectiveness of solar systems are these days, and 2) public education and free advice to those interested in solar but who have additional questions or concerns before they move forward with installing a system for their property. The Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Fe Alliance for Clean Energy are also partners on this initiative.

On June 11, the Santa Fe mayor and City Council adopted a resolution formally expressing their commitment to the Solarize Santa Fe! campaign. The Santa Fe County Commission addressed a similar resolution on June 24. Both governing bodies have previously established aggressive policies promoting solar power in our region—the city via its “Sustainable Santa Fe Plan” and the county in its “Sustainable Growth Management Plan.” The city and county recognize the environmental and public health benefits of transitioning to clean, renewable solar power and also the significant job creation and economic development associated with growing the solar industry in our community.

On behalf of the county, I’ve been promoting solar power to the public for more than three years now. The most common comment I continue to receive goes something like this: “I had no idea that solar was so affordable. I’ve wanted to go solar for awhile now but thought it was still just for the well-to-do.” Solar photovoltaic (PV) electric systems are less than half the cost they were just five to six years ago. Both PV and solar thermal (water and space heating) systems enjoy 40 percent income tax credits and can be totally or close to “zero cost” from the get-go. The monthly loan payment for your solar system can be about the same as the reduction or elimination of your electric, natural gas, or propane bills, making it cash-neutral from the first month of owning your system. For those that qualify (gross household income less than $104,000 per year), a loan from HomeWise, a nonprofit low- and moderate-income lender, can be a great option. Many solar companies offer attractive financing as well. In addition, a solar system increases the resale value of a home or commercial property.

Solarize Santa Fe! aims to educate the public about how solar systems are now quite cost-effective—making both dollars and sense. Contact me for more information at 505.992.3044 or cohare@santafecountynm.gov. The county cannot recommend specific solar companies to install your solar system, but we do maintain an informative list of companies that do business in the area. Go to www.santafecountynm.gov and click on “Solar Power” under “Services.”

 

Craig O’Hare is Santa Fe County’s Energy Programs specialist.