A solar non-profit’s work with Habitat for Humanity to bring “solar barn raising” to Virginia communities is putting paid to the myth that solar is only for the rich.
“Committed to relieving the energy burden of low-income families,” Give Solar and a Virginia chapter of Habitat have launched their Solar Seed Fund, reports Energy News Network (ENN).
With the goal of covering the US$5,000 it takes to install a four-kilowatt rooftop system, the founders of Solar Seed Fund hope to “raise an initial $100,000 to outfit 20 area Habitat for Humanity homes with photovoltaic panels over the next five years.”
Homeowners who secure such rooftop systems are expected to save about $40 a month, and have “committed to direct half of that savings back to the fund—to replenish it and cover the up-front installation costs over the course of their mortgage.”
Give Solar director Jeff Heie told ENN he’s been organizing what he calls solar barn raisings for several years now. “Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick,” he said of the term. “But I want to raise consciousness about solar. It’s about getting people who know nothing about solar up on a roof.” The professionally-guided volunteer teams also help lower costs, while building skills among people who’ve never worked with solar systems before.
ENN says the barn raising tag is also “a tribute to the region’s Mennonite and Amish heritage and their tradition of mutual aid when neighbouring farmers pooled their know-how.”
Heie’s philosophy meshes well with that of Jonathan Lantz-Trissel, project manager with Green Hill Solar, which is “willing to minimize its own profit margins by offering a price break to endeavours such as the Habitat pilot.”
Lantz-Trissel told ENN that profitability is not the main goal of the organization’s work. “If that means a little less profitability, so what?” he added. “We’re interested in our local community, not being millionaires.”