Solar power is still a matter of some controversy, with arguments raging about whether or not an individual panel can ever recoup the energy cost of making it. But the technology improves day by day in leaps and bounds, and the more solar systems put in place, the lower the costs creep. Once installed, solar requires relatively little maintenance, beyond cleaning, and they cut the utility costs wherever they are installed.
It was with all of these things in mind that a family in Hatfield, Massachusetts, arranged to donate large solar power systems to eight Northampton nonprofit organizations.
In 2016, the family, who has chosen to remain anonymous for the time being, approached Northeast Solar about the project. Details were finalized late in August of 2017, and throughout October and November, one solar system will be installed each week until all eight are up and running.
The eight lucky nonprofits are the Amherst Survival Center, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, the Grove Street Inn homeless shelter, Historic Northampton, the Amherst headquarters of Peace Development Fund, Prosperity Meadow Farm, Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA), and ServiceNet, which is a service agency for people with mental and physical impairments. All of these organizations are notably resource-poor, making this an incredible gift that will continue to pay dividends for decade in utility savings.
According to Greg Garrison, President of Northeast Solar, the installations will, over their functioning lifetimes, save the organizations over half a million dollars in energy costs, money that can instead be put towards their missions.
The total cost to the donors is very near to $400,000, with Northeast Solar donating their labor for free. For tax reasons, the donors will retain ownership of the solar systems for the immediate future, as there are tax benefits that nonprofits aren’t eligible to take advantage of. According to Philip Korman, executive director of CISA and one of the few people who know the identity of the donors, they intend to reinvest those tax credits in maintaining and expanding the systems.