Many local senior affordable-housing properties soon will be energy independent thanks to a government funding package put together by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and solar installation company Planet Solar Inc. The Community Environmental Council also played a role in making the project possible.

“This is a solar energy project that will bring renewable electricity to dozens of local seniors by the time we’re done,” Planet Solar President Ben Siebert said. “Using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and combining them with large state rebates earmarked for affordable housing, HACSB will be installing nearly 100 kilowatts of solar on four different properties around the city of Santa Barbara.

“In fact, one property will generate 100 percent of their electricity from the sun. Similar scale projects will follow in Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. This will not only save the tenants money each month, it will also save HACSB thousands of dollars annually, allowing the organization to assist more people every year.”

The company broke ground on the first property at 175 S. La Cumbre Road near Five Points Mall on April 6. When that project is finished this month, the common area, as well as the property’s 36 apartments, will use the renewable solar energy — and any extra will be put back into the power grid.

Other local properties slated for the first wave of solar panels are at 521 N. La Cumbre Road, 702 Laguna St. and the Housing Authority’s offices downtown.

“The Stimulus Act was intended to create American jobs and investment,” said Megan Birney, the Community Environmental Council’s renewable energy specialist. “This project is installing all U.S.-made components, with U.S. installers.”

Planet Solar will be using U.S.-made solar panels from SolarWorld USA, which has its corporate headquarters and final manufacturing facility in nearby Camarillo.

— Jonatha King is a publicist.