Virginia homeless shelter gains on-site Solar PV array

Dec. 7, 2022
The clean energy solutions provider says it has installed a total of 782 Heliene-brand photovoltaic solar panels at CARITAS Center, making the system the largest solar array at any homeless facility in Virginia

Secure Solar Futures has installed a 313-kW solar power system at Congregations Around Richmond To Assure Shelter's (CARITAS) homeless shelter facility in Richmond, VA.

The clean energy solutions provider says it has installed a total of 782 Heliene-brand photovoltaic solar panels at CARITAS Center, making the system the largest solar array at any homeless facility in Virginia, and maybe on the East Coast.

The solar system, which has been installed at no upfront capital cost to CARITAS, will be operated by Secure Solar under a 25-year power purchase contract. The deal will see CARITAS purchase all the electricity produced by the solar panels at the facility at a price lower than usually available. The non-profit will use a grant of $17,000 from the RVA Solar Fund to fund this project.

The solar system is estimated to produce clean energy equivalent enough to power 39 average homes and to offset 310 tons of CO2 pollution.  It is expected to help the non-profit organization cut its electric utility bills by $224,358 during the term of the contract.

“Solar power will save money on energy that CARITAS can apply to their mission of helping people improve their lives,” said Ryan McAllister, CEO of Secure Solar Futures. “The flat roof of the former warehouse building that they transformed into a beautiful energy efficient space was perfectly suited to hosting a solar power system large enough to make CARITAS a leader on clean energy.”

Opened in 2020, CARITAS Center houses a new women’s recovery program as well as a sober-living apartment community, in addition to its workforce development program, emergency shelter and furniture bank programs.

Over 100 employees provide support to the community at the center, in addition to a second location at 700 Dinwiddie Avenue. In 2021, the non-profit provided 15,653 nights of shelter to women and men in its emergency shelter and 36,000 nights of shelter in its recovery program.

The facility also features about 45 solar tubes, which will filter natural light throughout the facility. Other appliances are Energy Star certified to manage usage and costs. Additionally, toilets in the building feature automatic shut-off functions.