The Southwest Solar Barn Raising Program was designed to provide renewable solar energy for low-income families to offset rising utility costs while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in southwest Colorado.
The program aimed to educate residents of low-income housing in La Plata County, Colorado on solar photovoltaics (PV) and provide them with access to affordable solar PV system installations at two low-income housing sites – Southwest Horizon Ranch serving 61 families in Durango, Colorado and a Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County home for a family of seven in Bayfield, Colorado.
4CORE created the Southwest Solar Barn Raising Program to be a ‘barn-raising’ model engaging volunteers to assist in the installation of the solar PV systems. This model included educating area families and individuals on solar installation practices and benefits and focused on creating a volunteer pool to help support the installation of the solar system through phased volunteer work parties. Volunteer engagement was central to building community awareness of solar energy and encouraged volunteers to participate in future low-income and affordable housing solar installations. The ‘barn-raising’ model builds implicit commitment from current program recipients to ‘pay it forward’ in future volunteer service for the replication of the Southwest Solar Barn Raising Program.
The following are the measurable program benefits and rates of success:
- Installed 23.1 kW of combined solar
- Offset 100% of electricity needs at both project sites – 100% of electricity needs for the water delivery system at SW Horizon Ranch and 100% electrical energy consumption of the Habitat for Humanity home.
- Secured $31,589 in matching funds to cover equipment and installation costs,
- Garnered nine local sponsors and three in-kind donors for professional services,
- 39,692 kWh to be produced annually between the two sites,
- $1770 saved annually for low-income family of seven in Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County home,
- $4,000 saved annually for SW Horizon Ranch and Housing Solutions of the Southwest,
- 27.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide saved annually,
- 29,398 lbs of burned coal prevented in La Plata County annually
- 300+ engaged community members with raised awareness and participation in community solar,
- Over 600 hours of volunteer time logged
- Five articles and two media placements in regional news.
We captured the attention of the media as they recognized the value to the region and the families that benefited. See how our local TV station and newspapers covered the story.
Solar Barn Raising in 2017
We’re “Raising the Solar Bar” in 2017 through the generous support of an additional non-competive EPA grant award. We will be replicating the Southwest Solar Barn Raising model in Pagosa Springs at Soccorro Senior Living Center with our 2017 project “Raise the Solar Bar.”