CO-OP PEOPLE
Meet the Solar Lady
GVEC member Catherine Ozer loves letting the sun shine in—and paying lower electricity bills

Let the sun shine in: Catherine Ozer lights up when extolling the merits of her home’s solar photovoltaic system.
IMAGE: Photo by Chris Carson (property of Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative)

Catherine Ozer is somewhat of a celebrity in La Vernia. Dubbed the “Solar Lady” by her neighbors, the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative member oversaw the installation of a 5.25-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system in April 2010 that covered most of the roof of her 2,400-square-foot home.

“We believe it’s important to conserve energy wherever we can,” Ozer says. She and her husband, Phil, caught the energy-efficiency bug in 2007 when they retired to Hawaii—which has one of the nation’s highest electric rates.

The Ozers’ typical monthly utility bill in Hawaii? A whopping $750 to $800. “In a very short time, we had to learn a very efficient way to live,” she says. After their Hawaii home was destroyed by fire in February 2009, the Ozers—who were familiar with the San Antonio area—relocated to La Vernia. Shortly thereafter, Catherine Ozer discovered GVEC’s energy-efficiency programs and rebates.

GVEC’s rebates are easy to obtain: After making an energy-efficient purchase that meets rebate criteria, a member fills out an online form and submits receipts and any required supporting paperwork. A bill credit is issued for rebates under $1,500, and a check is mailed for higher amounts, usually within weeks of submitting the correct documentation.

The Ozers paid $29,292 for the combined purchase and installation of their PV-5250 solar system. That’s a hefty up-front cost, but they recouped $15,000 with an $8,000 rebate from GVEC and a $7,000 federal renewable energy tax credit.

The couple has also installed a solar water heater and a programmable thermostat. After a home energy audit by GVEC, the Ozers doubled their attic insulation.

And Catherine Ozer’s not done: “I have a check-off list,” she laughs. “I don’t think people realize how these little things can make such a difference.” She should know: Her average monthly electric bill is now $50, down from $200. She’s more than the “Solar Lady.” She’s a shining star.

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Ashley Clary-Carpenter, field editor
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