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Downtown solar initiative celebrates first anniversary

ENCINITAS — Despite the looming coastal fog that signals “June Gloom,” the sun still powers an ever-increasing number of homes and businesses in downtown Encinitas. Thanks in large part to a groundbreaking partnership between the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association and Stellar Solar, merchants and residents can participate in the Megawatt Challenge and help historic Encinitas install one megawatt of solar energy.
Participating in the challenge not only benefits the consumer, but also the community, local merchants and DEMA members and programs. Simultaneously, customers benefit financially by taking advantage of tax incentives from the state and federal governments, cash rebates from Stellar Solar as well as save saving money on electric bills.
But the benefits don’t end there. Not only does Stellar Solar give customers quick cash, but it kicks in up to $500 towards a DEMA supported project. This additional incentive was part of the reason city engineer Mike Emerson decided to participate in the challenge.
“I heard about it at the Cardiff Surf Classic and Green event at Seaside last year,” he said.
The savings are already mounting. Along with saving on monthly power bills, he received a 30 percent rebate from the federal government as an incentive. “We’re planning to get an electric car eventually.”
Emerson, who works in the clean water division of engineering services, designated his portion to water wise improvements in downtown Encinitas.
“I want to stop over irrigation close to the ocean. That’s part of my job,” Emerson said. “I think it’s a very good program and an incentive to use Stellar Solar and give to DEMA at the same time.”
Additional choices include bike racks in downtown Encinitas, extra trash and recycling on side streets and Second Street, the Encinitas Preservations Association and the DEMA Scholarship Fund.
“I really believe in getting away from the fossil fuels and turning to solar, electric and wind power,” he said.
Leo Macaluso, owner of Encinitas Foreign and Domestic, said the process of fitting his business with solar panels is underway.
“It’s a good financial decision and we’re really darn excited about being able to do away with our electricity bill,” he said. Their system will count towards the megawatt goal and make a huge contribution to achieving the goal.
The business’ main facility was built 10 years ago and now three sections of roof filled with solar panels. “Obviously, this is a personal decision,” Macaluso said. “I think people should really take the time to do the math and see if it makes sense to go solar.”
“Prior to approaching DEMA formally about our Alliance Program, over several previous years we had already discussed promotion of sustainable living and renewable energy in our community as well as promoting support for local businesses with their Buy Local push,” Barry Cooper, Energy Consultant at Stellar Solar said.
“We agreed we could divert a portion of our advertising budget to cover the promotion and most of the rebates, and SunPower agreed to contribute a portion for any projects utilizing their products,” according to Cooper. “We help bang the drum for sustainable living, while assisting homeowners and businesses to greatly reduce their energy costs.”
The good news doesn’t end there. In fact, DEMA and Stellar Solar have become partners on several levels, resulting in community benefits.
“Besides the Megawatt Challenge, we have sponsored and powered DEMA’s Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Series, Classic Car nights, Home Expo, Underground E-Mobility Show and Environment Day,” said Stellar Solar marketing director David Boylan.
“With Stellar being headquartered in downtown Encinitas, the availability of their Mobile Solar System and DEMA’s sustainability focused events, the whole association was a win-win for Stellar and DEMA,” Boylan said. “Part of marketing solar entails education and all of DEMA’s events have a strong educational component.”
While Stellar Solar’s commercial business is expanding across the country and residential business throughout San Diego County, it is rooted in cultivating local projects.
“At the same time Stellar Solar is really supporting the local community here in Encinitas and are striving to be the go-to resource for homeowners and businesses who want to go solar,” Boylan said. “That support has translated into several high profile local businesses going solar with Stellar including Seaside Market and Encinitas Foreign and Domestic.”

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