December 2, 2022
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CEC wants to put solar on 1,000 roofs for South Coast nonprofits


The Community Environmental Council in Santa Barbara is rolling out a pilot power-purchase solar program for nonprofits that it hopes will become a model for other communities across the country.

The Community Supported Solar program will provide access to solar-powered electricity to qualified area nonprofits that own their own buildings or are in long-term leases with cooperative landlords. The solar installations would be owned and installed by a special-purpose LLC created by the Community Environment Council and funded by socially conscious investors.

“It’s good for the pocketbook, good for the environment, and good for the soul,” Dave Davis, CEO and executive director of the CEC, told me.

Here’s how the program will work:

Qualified nonprofits — those that are financially sound, own their own buildings or have amenable landlords and long-term lease agreements — can apply to have solar panels installed on their roofs, which also have to be able to work for solar. “The first thing we actually look at is the roof,” said Megan Birney, the energy manager at the CEC.

The CEC estimates that more than 1,000 buildings in Santa Barbara County are owned by nonprofits.

Although nonprofit groups would be paying the LLC for the solar-generated power, it beats being locked to the grid, Davis said. He estimated that with solar in place, an organization could stabilize about 80 percent of its utility bill, rather than watching utility costs rise year after year.

Birney said nonprofits have typically fallen in a doughnut hole where they aren’t able to get access to solar power-purchase agreements. “You can get a purchase agreement if you’re a homeowner … you can get a power purchase agreement if you’re a big company,” she said. “Nonprofits fall in the middle. They typically need between 50 and 200 kilowatts.”

For investors, the program is a chance to get a significant return on capital, plus the bonus of warm, fuzzy feelings. Davis said qualified investors would be those individuals that have stable but passive income in place and who could use the 30 percent investment tax credit.

The CEC looks to get about 60 percent of the financing for the program from equity investors and the rest from a debt instrument facilitated by Wiser Solar.

The CEC has thus far signed letters of intent with The Santa Maria Children’s Discovery Museum and the Larry Crandell Nonprofit Center, a facility located in a Hutton Parker Foundation building in Santa Barbara that houses 10 other nonprofits. Davis said he’s hopeful those two projects will be up and rolling by year’s end, and that the CEC will be able to add 10 to 20 nonprofits per year to the Community Supported Solar program.

The CEC is currently seeking about $325,000 in investor capital. The group is hosting an informational gathering for interested investors from 5-7 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Santa Barbara Club at 1105 Chapala St. For more information and to RSVP, contact Birney at or (805) 963-0583 ext. 107.

Fresh start for T.O. building

A building in Thousand Oaks is undergoing $2.4 million in tenant improvements and will  be a new health facility operated by UCLA.

Parker-Brown Construction is doing the remodel of the 16,000-square-foot property at 100 Moody Court. Construction should be finished by early November, according to a news release from the Canoga Park-based construction firm. The state-of-the-art facility will house primary care and medical specialties in family medicine, cardiology, dermatology and pediatrics, among other practices.

The building is the former headquarters of Baja Fresh.


• Furniture and home décor store Cost Plus World Market is opening a 20,000-square-foot location in the El Paseo Simi shopping center at 2910 Tapo Canyon Road in Simi Valley.

Michael Schiff of NAI Capital’s Westlake Village office represented the Landlord, South Street Center LLC, in the deal, valued at more than $2.8 million.

“Cost Plus World Market is in a very slow expansion mode right now therefore they’re being very selective and only doing deals when it is a perfect fit for them,” Schiff said in a statement. There were multiple offers for the space, formerly occupied by a Borders bookstore, he said.

• Contact Marlize van Romburgh at