Seeding Habitat For Humanity Homes With Solar Power

Mar 19, 2021

Jeff Heie works with a crew during a solar barn raising at Gemeinschaft in Harrisonburg in 2019.
Credit Jeff Heie

A Harrisonburg nonprofit called Give Solar has a new partnership with the Central Valley Habitat for Humanity to install solar panels on homes in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

At a duplex in Broadway, a group of volunteers scaled ladders and shimmied across rooflines to install two solar panel systems. This house is the first in a series that Habitat for Humanity and Give Solar will collaborate on to bring solar power to Habitat homeowners.

JEFF HEIE: Energy poverty is a big deal in Virginia. And particularly in Harrisonburg, people struggle to pay their electricity bills, and so this is a project that is trying to address that problem as well.

Jeff Heie is the founder of Give Solar. His organization has established a "solar seed fund" to front the costs of the solar panels.

Jeff Heie is the founder of Give Solar.
Credit Jeff Heie

HEIE: The cost of these systems that we're installing is going to be about $5,000 … the homeowner is going to repay the cost of the system, but it's a zero-interest loan over the course of their home loan, which is anywhere from 20 to 30 years for Habitat homeowners. So they'll pay about $20 a month to pay for the solar system, and they'll be saving about $40 a month … so in the end, their net benefit is about $20 a month.

Their goal is to raise $100,000 for the solar seed fund in the next year

HEIE: … which will support putting solar on 20 Habitat homes over the next five years … I'm really excited about the possibility of rolling out this project in other parts in the state as well. There's, I believe, about 50 Habitat affiliates around the state, and I'm hoping that Give Solar will be able to work with other Habitat affiliates.