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Greenvilla in the heart of Suburbia

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 16, 2008


Prepare yourselves, as this is one of my rare "happy" columns where I wax all Pollyanna with nary a bitch or complaint.

A reader recently contacted me after reading about Sequoia Solar in the Coast News and asked me to come check out his solar generated home. "...a golden opportunity to significantly reduce carbon pollution, prevent the Sunrise Powerlink from becoming a reality, and make money at the same time..." caught my attention.

Anything that will help prevent the development of the Sunrise Powerlink is worth a look, right?

An advocate of renewable energy and on site solar generation, I was eager to see his suburban home conversion. I scheduled my tour for a Saturday afternoon after restoration work along Cottonwood Creek in Encinitas. Park cleanup is sweaty, dirty work, but the sun and service had me fired up.

Local action comes in many forms. I tell myself this as I removed invasive non-natives from the ground, and clear dead brush from pathways in the riparian park. A day of environmental action never seems like work to me.. Environmental stewardship is always a good thing, especially when there are lessons to be learned under clear blue skies.

After a quick shower I made my way across town with a notepad and a pen. Of course, I was late, having stretched my time with Cottonwood Creek Conservancy to it's utmost only to get lost navigating Village Park.

Peter Soria, the proud home owner greeted me at the door. Sixty-three years old, Peter is living proof that change is possible and you're never to old to embrace new ideas and new technologies. An avid recycler in the 70's, long before it was wide spread and mainstream, his journey to low impact living is a profile in efficiency and sustainability.

The unassuming house blends in with the neighborhood. Fruit trees in the front yard and a Toyota Prius in the driveway are the only clues that this is not your average tract home. The 23 solar panels cannot be seen from the street. Inside, the home he shares with his wife and his dog Wally is immaculate. It's obvious why he was so eager to showoff his eco-home.

On the edge of a ridge looking east the solar panels were perfectly situated to capture the rising sun. Fully integrated, his on site solar generation, produces enough energy to spin his electric meter backwards as long as the sun is up and he keeps his energy consumption down. This is simple to do with double paned windows, Sola-tubes, a fully finished garage, new insulated roof, energy smart appliances and a commitment to getting more from less.

Most encouraging is how Soria has achieved low cost, energy efficient, solar power with no money down, through a lease agreement with Solar City. Solar City owns and maintains the photovoltaics for $100 a month.

When my tour became a sales pitch is unclear. Suffice it to say I was so impressed it hardly mattered, as it is now clear there is no longer any excuse for homeowners not to power their homes with on site solar generation. And absolutely no reason to build the Sunrise Power link.

How cool is that?

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