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Seeding Habitat For Humanity Homes With Solar Power

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.

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

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.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.