Santa Barbara, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The Santa Barbara County Federal Credit Union (SBCFCU) has become the first financial institution in the state to install an environmentally-friendly solar electric system on its building, and one of the first in the nation to offer a loan program specifically designed to make solar electric system purchasing easy and affordable for its members.The 38 kW solar electric system was installed by local solar company REC Solar and incorporates 12 IG 3000 inverters from Fronius, and Sharp NT-185U1 solar PV modules. According to REC Solar, the system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the air by 77,347 pounds every year, and will reduce the credit union’s electricity costs enough to pay for itself in 10 to 15 years. SBCFCU board member Pat McPherson said the credit union’s new system will serve as a model for its members and also a sound investment for the SBCFCU over the next few years. “The solar system provides us with a 7 percent return on our investment, which is far greater than the return we would get from putting our money in a CD,” McPherson said. SBCFCU said the project also serves as an example for members of how easy and economical it can be to incorporate solar into their own homes, especially if they secure a solar energy loan through the credit union. “Not only are they encouraging others to invest in solar with their new Solar Power Loan, they are proving that they truly believe in renewable energy with the purchase of their own system,” said REC Solar District Manager Michael Lind. The loan, which took effect in October 2004, offers a quick and easy way for members to finance solar electric systems. The interest rate for the loan, which can be granted in approximately one week, can be as low as 4.25 percent (depending on credit). On Thursday, January 13, 2005 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. community members will join business and government leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in to officially unveil the new solar PV system and the credit union’s new loan program. The event, which is hosted by the SBCFCU and the Community Environmental Council, will feature presentations by Santa Barbara mayor Marty Blum, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, Community Environmental Council Executive Director Bob Ferris, and SBCFCU president Teri Zanini. The ribbon-cutting ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the parking lot of the Santa Barbara County Federal Credit Union building located at 2623 De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara.