Largest Solar Barn Raising in Virginia Generates Funds for World Relief
Through innovative installation and financing models, Gift and Thrift, a nonprofit in Harrisonburg, VA, is home to the largest solar array installed by volunteers in Virginia. Dubbed a ‘solar barn raising’, the 62kW DC array was installed by community members from Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley. The current installation is the first phase of what will be a 107kW system, and will generate power for the nonprofit under a Solar Self-Generation Agreement (SGA®).
The Solar Self-Generation Agreement (Solar SGA®) between Secure Futures and Gift and Thrift represents a milestone in Virginia, as a unique model of grassroots organizing and funding, as well as the first solar installation on a Mennonite Church USA affiliated thrift store.
Individuals and groups interested in supporting the solar initiative at Gift and Thrift are encouraged to do so at www.gofundme.com/giftandthriftsolar.
- 62 kW DC (phase one)
- Net savings of $320,000 over the 35-year lifespan of the array
- Lifetime CO2 offsets: 1850 tons
- Equivalent to keeping 4,283 barrels of oil in the ground
What is the story behind the project?
The project is the culmination of a series of local partnership, each building on a long-term community commitment to reducing fossil fuel usage and environmental impact. The solar array on Gift and Thrift is the largest community-installed solar array in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The end result of the ‘solar barn raising’ is the annual savings of $14,000, all of which will directly benefit the global relief and development work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
The array on the nonprofit serves as a unique case study for MCC USA, and other non-profits looking to go solar. “This project is the first of its kind in our network. It’s very exciting to see so many people involved in this project that will yield great ecological and environmental benefits,” said Deb King, thrift store development coordinator for MCC U.S.
How is the project financed?
In 2015, members of the local Voluntary Gas Tax approached Gift & Thrift with a grant of $5,000 as seed money for solar. This money was raised by group members donating a self-imposed 50 cents-per- gallon gasoline tax over the course of a year. Individuals and groups interested in supporting the solar initiative are encouraged to do so at www.gofundme.com/giftandthriftsolar.
Who installed the solar panels?
On November 5th 2016, more than 30 volunteers gathered at the Harrisonburg Gift & Thrift Store, for a solar ‘barn raising’ that highlighted robust community support for renewable energy and a commitment to serving disadvantaged communities around the world. Together, the volunteers, including professional electricians and solar advocates, worked side by side to install the first section of what will be the largest commercial solar array in Harrisonburg, Va. on the roof of the nonprofit thrift store.
What type of equipment was installed?
Secure Futures LLC used exclusively American-made equipment, ensuring high quality, durability, and fair environmental and labor practices. All of the panels installed on Gift and Thrift are SolarWorld 345XL monocrystalline modules, with a service lifespan on 35-45 years, and a 25-year warranty. Secure Futures also used UNIRAC self-ballasted roof mount racking.
How will the system be maintained?
Secure Futures LLC monitors the systems production daily online as well as conducts annual performance testing and maintenance on site.