Secure Solar Futures, a provider of on-site clean energy to schools, hospitals, and businesses, has signed a 25-year Solar Power Purchase Agreement with Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence (HOPE), Inc. for two rooftop solar arrays and an electric vehicle charging station.
Based in Wytheville, Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence, Inc. (HOPE) was established 30 years ago to fulfill the challenge of its name - to reduce the conditions contributing to poverty in Southwest Virginia. HOPE, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization breaking generational poverty through enhanced food access and housing stability. It serves a five-county area of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, and Wythe, as well as the city of Galax.
“Stewardship is a core value of our organization. We strive to be good stewards of both donor contributions and the natural environment,” said HOPE Executive Director Andy Kegley. “Solar power will reduce our operating cost structure to help deliver our zero hunger and housing-first services more efficiently to more people in need while helping us use clean energy."
To save money on installation costs, the organization will host a “solar barn raising” staffed by local career and technical education students and electrical apprentices under the supervision of trained solar installation professionals. The project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2023.
One rooftop solar array will be installed on the HOPE office building and the other will be located at the organization’s Open Door Café location, just across a parking lot on Wytheville’s Main Street campus.
Together, both solar arrays will have a production capacity of about 58 kilowatts and will save HOPE $7,500 in energy costs per year, or more than $200,000 over the life of the solar agreement. Each year, solar panels at both HOPE locations will produce enough energy to power 7 average Virginia homes and offset enough grid power to avoid 34.2 metric tons of carbon emissions, as much carbon as would be sequestered by 40.5 acres of forest.
“A re-roofing project gave us the opportunity to pursue solar power, which aligns with our value of both economic and environmental sustainability,” added Kegley. “Because of our highly visible location, we know this project will heighten awareness of solar energy.”
Along with solar panels, the Open Door Café (pictured) will receive an electric vehicle charging station that will get its energy from the rooftop solar array. It will be one of the first EV chargers open to the public in Wytheville and is expected to bring more attention to HOPE's “donate-what-you-can” restaurant.
By coincidence, Wytheville is the birthplace of former First Lady Edith Boiling Wilson, rumored to be the first person to drive an electric vehicle in Washington, DC.