Solar savings serve kids in Southern Oregon clubs

Solar savings serve kids in Southern Oregon clubs

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Photos courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley 

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley serve a critical need in Southern Oregon, providing a positive, fun and safe after-school place for children in grades K-12. With support from Energy Trust of Oregon, the nonprofit recently installed a second solar energy project, this time at their Illinois Valley Club in Kerby. Solar is helping to lower energy bills and free up more dollars for staffing and services for the kids.

With six clubs in the Grants Pass area serving 3,600 students, the Boys & Girls Clubs organization runs on a tight budget. One of the biggest expenses is electricity. “Serving as many children as we do means our expenses are massive, particularly the cost of operating the buildings,” said Greg Roe, executive director.

True South Solar, an Energy Trust trade ally contractor, installed the 51.35-kilowatt solar system on the roof of the 20,000-square-foot Illinois Valley Club facility. The system is estimated to generate more than 78,000 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity per year, which translates into cost savings. Combined with the estimated 100,000 kWh generated by the 64.78-kW solar system at the Grants Pass Club, the savings are significant.  

“We are saving up to one-half on our energy bills,” said Roe. “That’s thousands of dollars saved on operating costs that are now helping us keep staffing at a level that best serves kids and families in our area.”

The organization is also saving on energy bills thanks to an LED lighting upgrade at their Grants Pass location that trimmed energy use by 87,400 kWh. Energy Trust incentives totaling $14,000 made the project possible.   

Solar a “no-brainer”  

Roe had seen solar in action at the Boys & Girls Club in Albany and thought it could be a good option in Grants Pass. “We have a lot of sun in Southern Oregon, so panels are a no-brainer.” His colleague in Albany assured him it was worthwhile, so Roe contacted Pacific Power to learn more about getting a project going, which led him to Energy Trust and True South Solar.

Energy Trust was able to help the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rogue Valley with $24,000 in total cash incentives for the two solar projects. Stacking these incentives with Blue Sky® community project grants through Pacific Power and a grant through the Round House Foundation for the Illinois Valley Club project made solar a reality.

“We wouldn’t have done the solar project without Energy Trust and Blue Sky,” said Roe. “It would have taken too long to realize the savings without their help up front.” 

While cost savings were the major motivator for adding solar, the Boys & Girls Clubs have incorporated solar in their activities and programming too. Learning about renewable energy and its connection with the environment is part of the organization’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) program.

Roe intends to continue the solar journey for the Rogue Valley clubs. There are plans to build a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Talent within the next five years and Roe has pulled True South Solar into the design phase. “We hope that this building will be net zero for carbon emissions, and being solar-ready during construction will help with that.” Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero offering is poised to help this project reach its goals.

If you’d like to learn more about how solar can help your organization reduce costs and become more energy resilient, contact Energy Trust to get a no-cost custom analysis and bid.