YMCA Christmas Tree Lit with Solar

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People at the Christmas tree lot were in awe of the lighting which was powered by solar.

When the Palisades-Malibu Christmas Tree was lit on December 3, it was a first for the community. The 14-ft. tree, and the star at the top, were lit with solar energy.

The tree and the Christmas tree lot can be found at the entrance to Simon Meadow, at Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Boulevard.

Y Board member Lou Kamer said the idea to use solar came up at a meeting. “Simon Meadow is the Y’s playground, art center, and lab where we figure out new ways to give back and it just seemed like a cool thing to figure out how to do,” he said.

Kamer contacted Resilient Palisades’ Ryan Craig, who recommended Emil Kalil the CEO of Suntricity, a local company based in Pacific Palisades that designs and installs solar electric systems in residential and commercial buildings.

Kalil, a Highlands resident, graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in geochemistry. He is an environmentalist, whose goal is to reduce, reuse and conserve natural resources. “When Lou told me about lighting the tree with solar, I knew exactly what he needed,” Kahlil said. “I had most of the parts: a solar panel, a small 12 volt car battery and the mounting hardware. I bought the ‘charge controller’ that takes the output of the solar panel and converts it to 12VDC to charge the battery.

“It was one of those fun, simple tasks that work,” Kalil said. “I like playing with rechargeable batteries and this was a nice exercise to make a productive gadget out of solar and batteries.”

YMCA Executive Producer Jim Kirtley worked with Kalil, and after the successful lighting on December 3, Kirtley, and Kamer, thanked him for help with the tree lights.

“Glad the solar lighting is working,” Kalil said. “We just need enough sun today to charge the battery for tonight.”

Weather on December 4 did not cooperate, with cloudy skies all day, but the rest of the week is supposed to be sunny and in the low 60s.

Kalil said, “At Suntricity, we like getting people off the grid and making them energy independent. The more solar we produce, the less oil we have to burn. Especially now with electric cars, you can use your solar to charge the car and never have to pay for gas or LADWP electric services. You can drive guilt free.”

Suntricity partners with Resilient Palisades. “Since we started Suntricity, I became very involved in our community. The tree lighting was a way for me to share and give back,” Kalil said.

The tree lot will be open Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. All proceeds from tree sales will benefit the YMCA.

Workers have constructed wood “reindeer” and they are selling from $50 to $70. In addition to trees of varying sizes, wreaths, garlands and evergreen swag are available.

This Saturday, December 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there is a Holiday Glass Sale in Simon Meadow at Temescal Canyon and Sunset Boulevard. One of a kind of glass gifts, jewelry and ornaments will be sold with proceeds to Santa Monica College Art Department and to the YMCA.

While at the Y Christmas tree lot, select a reindeer to take home.

(Editor’s note: in writing this story, I learned that Kalil’s father was a chemical engineer who built the moon rocket at Rocketdyne. Kalil said that his father “taught me electronics and algebra at a very young age. It’s funny now. My dad built the rocket engines that returned rocks from the moon. In my graduate career, our lab studied those moon rocks.”)

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