Solar Panels Come to Salemtowne, Thanks to a Resident-led Project

Several years ago, late resident Bob Giegengack wrote an article for “Reflections” entitled, “Can Salemtowne Go Solar?” In that article, Bob eloquently and forcefully outlined the merits of solar energy for Salemtowne — both economically and ethically.

Spurred by Bob’s passion, the Environmental Sustainability Committee, led by Tom Mann, added Solar Energy to its list of environmental concerns. Salemtowne had already supported many activities for energy conservation and recycling, and the move to “go solar” seemed a logical step. First, residents established the Sustainable Energy Fund for clean energy initiatives. Then, after months of study, consultation with solar energy providers, and evaluation of the feasibility of solar for Salemtowne, the Solar Panel Project was launched: The goal was to raise $200,000 to install an array of 230 solar panels on the roof of Babcock Health Care Center.

Several major factors gave energy and assurance of success to the program:

1. A large group of residents gave generously of their time and money.
2. A resident donated $50,000 as matching funds.
3. Vice President of Development Emily Rector was enthusiastic about the project, giving valuable guidance and expertise.
4. Rebates from Duke Energy and, later from the Federal Inflation Reduction Act, provided assistance with financing.
5. Grants were received from the Moravian Ministries Foundation and from the Winston- Salem Foundation.

Now, a year later, Salemtowne can look with pride and proclaim, “We did it!” After rebates, it will cost Salemtowne nothing, while adding significant financial savings. And the panels will just lie on the roof, doing what they are designed to do — helping Salemtowne ensure cleaner air, while lowering energy costs and reducing the harmful climate effects resulting from burning fossil fuels.

By Sarah Catron

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