SOLAR FOR NONPROFITS, CONGREGATIONS, AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

Do you want to help your nonprofit, congregation, school or community organization go solar? You are on the right page.

Virginia is home to some amazing non-profits, community organizations, religious institutions, and other groups that do important and inspiring work.

But, many operate on tight budgets and rising energy costs can take funding away from supporting their mission. Going solar can be a great solution to tight budgets because it allows you to reduce your organization’s electric bills and protect against rising energy costs.

How can VA SUN help nonprofit organizations go solar?

Steps to going solar for nonprofit organizations

1. Join the listserve. VA SUN has an active listserve of people who have gone solar. You can ask questions and get help by contacting the listserve. Click here to join.

2. Check to make sure your organization’s roof is a good fit for solar. You can do a quick assessment of your organization’s roof to rule out any major problems that would prevent you from being able to go solar (like significant shading). Later on in the process you can have an installer look at your roof more closely.

3. Assemble a “solar team” to drive the process forward. This team should include facilities personnel, team members interested in driving the process forward, and members of the organization that will need to be included in the decision making process.

4. Organize a coop or bulk purchasing program. Let us help you!

5. Learn about solar financing. Although your organization won’t be able to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit for solar, the state of Virginia has approved a third party financing pilot program for faith communities, colleges, schools, local governments and non-profits that will allow eligible customers in Dominion Virginia Power territory to install solar panels with little or no upfront cost, paying only for the electricity the systems provide. Learn more about the pilot program here.

6. Solicit three bids from local installers. We recommend you solicit at least three bids so you can make sure you are getting a competitive price and an installer that will meet your needs.

7. Review the bids with support from VA SUN. Once you’ve met with three installers and received your bids, we are happy to help you review your options. We have a lot of experience reviewing proposals and can help you make sense of all of the various solar lingo. Just contact aaron@vasun.org to meet with someone from VA SUN.

8. Select an installer. Once you’ve reviewed your options it’s time to select an installer! Depending on your organization you may need to secure approval from facilities personnel, your Executive Director, or the Board. Including decision makers in your “solar team” can help ensure that the right people are involved and up-to-speed on the process.

9. Sign a contract and begin installation. Once you’ve made the final decision to move forward, your organization will sign a final contract with the installer of your choice and schedule an installation date. Small or medium sized projects (5 to 20 kW) usually don’t take more than a few days for installers to put up on your roof. Once the panels are put in place on your roof it usually takes 2-4 weeks for all of the permitting inspections and utility interconnection agreements to be finalized. This process may be shorter or longer depending on your specific project.

10. Have a party! It’s important to celebrate solar successes! At the party you show everyone your new, lower electricity bills and how they can go solar too.

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