IRVINE, Calif. — Since many people are working and studying from home, they’re likely using up more energy than ever.

For one homeowner in Irvine, having more time at home is what prompted her to look into an alternative energy source.

What You Need To Know

  • OC Goes Solar is a nonprofit started by homeowners that has helped 350+ homes receive solar energy

  • The nonprofit helps secure free solar power for underserved areas

  • Senait Forthal, who helped start the nonprofit, said part of OC Goes Solar’s mission is to educate homeowners about solar power

Jasmine Talesh explained that her home has definitely been using more energy during the pandemic. With cooler temperatures she’s been using space heaters, “and then of course, now it’s going to be winter time and we’ve been using the heater more,” she said.

With her kids taking virtual learning classes, Talesh added that they’ve been using more energy than ever.

“We could certainly use some help getting control of our power usage,” she said.

Her family has been thinking about going solar for years.

“I had time to slow down and think, OK it’s time,” said Talesh. “There were so many choices, and so many products, and so many companies. It was kind of hard to know where to start narrowing things down.”

She learned about a nonprofit started by homeowners in her neighborhood in Irvine who also wanted to go solar. 

Senait Forthal, who helped start OC Goes Solar a few years ago, is an environmental activist who works in urban planning. Forthal, along with a team of volunteers, started vetting solar power companies. They had several criteria including “companies that have been in business for a while. And second, we want them to be local because that reduces their carbon footprint,” said Forthal.

OC Goes Solar also looked for companies that are financially stable.

“Solar warranty is about 25 years, and if a contractor is gone, it’s difficult for the homeowner,” added Forthal.

Talesh said she could trust the information from the nonprofit, “because I knew it wasn’t just a marketing pitch. It was just homeowners like me trying to navigate the process."

Forthal said part of OC Goes Solar’s mission is to also educate homeowners about solar power and that their group holds workshops to answer any questions people may have.

In addition to reliable information Talesh would trust, she even got a group discount through the nonprofit.

“I was saving probably several thousand dollars from quotes I had seen from other companies,” she said.

She had originally been quoted in the roughly $20,000+ range, but through OC Goes Solar her price was closer to $16,000. They decided to pull the trigger and purchase a solar system for their home.

“We’re very excited. I’m really looking forward to not having a power bill,” said Talesh.

Her 11-year-old son Cyrus might even be more excited, but for reasons not related to the bill.

“I feel good so that we’re using energy from the sun, and not just power from the power plant,” said Cyrus.

He added he’s happy that his home is helping “save the planet.”

OC Goes Solar has helped 350 homes in Orange County get a solar power system at their home. Forthal added that the nonprofit also works with organizations to help bring free solar to underserved areas and added that the systems are paid for through grants from the state.