The solar system has a retail value of $4,800, including installation. Most of this cost is covered by the grant. Homeowners who receive a solar water heater will pay $25 per month for five years in addition to their regular utilities. They may receive a federal tax credit of $450 for installing the water heater.
â€œIt was an easy decision,â€ homeowner Francisco Martinez said. â€œWe're excited to be one of the first families to install and implement one.â€
Francisco and Laura Martinez are helping kick off a plan to spend $1 million to install 200 solar water heaters in San Antonio homes over the next two years.
The money to pay for what's dubbed the Solar Project is coming from the WellMed Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Blake, Kymberly and George Rapier Charitable Trust.
The foundation and trust gave the nonprofit American Sunrise the funds to administer the grant program and buy the solar water heaters.
The idea is to help homeowners reduce utility bills and advance the cause of renewable energy in San Antonio, partners in the program said.
Installing a solar water heater will save a homeowner about $300 a year, officials said.
Anyone in San Antonio may apply for one of the grants, WellMed executive director Carol Zernial said, but there are a few requirements.
To be eligible for the program, an applicant must be a homeowner, must be using an electric water heater and have a roof in good condition that has suitable exposure to the sun. The house also must have a garage or shed to house an 80-gallon tank.
The retail cost of the system, including installation, is about $4,800 â€” most of which is covered by the grant. Homeowners who receive a solar water heater will have to pay $25 a month for five years, plus their regular utilities. Also, they may receive a federal tax credit for $450 for installing the water heater.
â€œWe're in the middle of a drive to make San Antonio a sustainable city,â€ Mayor JuliÃ¡n Castro said at a news conference on the front lawn of the Martinez home at 319 S. Pinto St. in the Prospect Hill neighborhood on the near West Side.
But so far, Castro said, only nine CPS Energy customers have solar water heaters. The 200 new solar devices to be installed will greatly boost that total.
â€œWe want San Antonio to be No. 1 when it comes to solar and renewable energy,â€ Castro said.
Former Mayor Henry Cisneros said that George Rapier, the founder of WellMed, wanted to come up with a way to advance the use of solar power in homes.
â€œAnd we're honored that WellMed chose American Sunrise to administer the program,â€ Cisneros said.
He and his wife, Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros, founded American Sunrise, which has neighborhood revitalization as one of its missions.
Other partners, including SAWS, CPS Energy and Moen, a maker of household fixtures, will provide energy- and water-saving products to homeowners, Cisneros said.
For more information or to apply, call American Sunrise at (210) 212-2227.