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 107 kilowatt array was installed by community members from Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley.
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?
The project was financed through multiple sources, including community donations, an equity investment by Secure Futures, and a US Department of Energy SunShot grant. The seed money came from a local Voluntary Gas Tax.
Who installed the solar panels?
The first phase of the project, for 67 kilowatts of capacity, was installed by volunteers in November 2016. The second phase, also installed by volunteers, was completed in November 2017, bringing the project to a total generation capacity of 107 kilowatts. 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.
Live Energy Monitoring
See how much solar power each of the two arrays at Gift & Thrift is generating today. You can also slice and dice the data to see past power generation and much more!
Click here for a downloadable version of this case study (PDF)