Energy savings can help nonprofits financially

August 7, 2018

As energy costs continue to rise and more organizations compete for funding sources, the time may be right for a solar uprising.

The Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless, or Harmony House, just last week welcomed visitors to take a look at its new progressive, money-saving venture - 115 solar panels being installed on the roof of the 4th Avenue building. Director of Development Bill Rosenberger called the project a “game changer” - and not just because it’s the largest such installment in the city. He says it will help the nonprofit ensure a healthy financial outlook for many years to come.

Can other agencies make the same claim?

Dan Conant, the founder of Solar Holler - the Eastern Panhandle-based company behind the project - says he hopes to reach more churches, libraries and social services organizations across West Virginia in the future. These are among the groups that have missed out on incentives given to businesses and homeowners to “go green” - tax cuts.

Conant’s method of breaking down the financial barriers involves crowdfunding and generating community support, something that has become increasingly prevalent and accepted in our society.

And who wouldn’t prefer their donation be used in a way that could help these entities indefinitely?

Solar Holler has been at work in the Tri-State area for a while now, teaming up with the local Wayne County-based job training and affordable housing nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation to help trainees learn how to install solar panel systems. That also incudes crowd-funding a campaign to pay for an 18-panel solar system on the group’s headquarters, which has been expected to save them more than $20,000.

“Every dollar that the church and the library and the Coalfield Development are not spending on utilities is dollars they can actually use to support their missions,” Conant told The Herald-Dispatch at the time.

“More books for students, more meals for hungry folks or job training. One of the things here is we have so many needs in the community and if we can use clean energy to support that, it is awesome,” Conant said.

Talk about looking on the bright side of things. It’s hard to argue with a movement that’s not only

good for the environment, but also

good for people.

Beyond the expansive power systems such as Harmony House unveiled, Solar Holler is helping groups as it can on a smaller, but still meaningful, scale. At the 4th Avenue building, Solar Holler first replaced 400 light bulbs and 10 exit signs’ lighting with cost-saving LED bulbs, which Rosenberger said saved the agency $182 a month.

“Every dime we save is going right back into our programs,” he told reporter Fred Pace of The Herald-Dispatch. “We hope this can be a model for other nonprofit organizations in the state.”

Whether energy-saving strides are big or small, we hope so too. Because time spent worrying about bills and operating costs is time taken away from organizations’ critical missions.

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