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Bringing Solar Power to Those Most in Need – NC WARN News Release

New campaign to donate solar rooftop systems to nonprofits and herald sun-power’s affordability for homes and businesses

Durham, NC – Energy-climate watchdog group NC WARN today announced a campaign to donate solar electric and hot water systems to nonprofit facilities providing services for needy North Carolinians. By working with local solar installation companies, the group is promoting solar power as solid, affordable investments for most homes and businesses, and a key element of the much-needed statewide shift to a climate-protecting renewable energy economy.

For many years, NC WARN has promoted the benefits of solar energy in the public eye and at the NC Utilities Commission. Now the group is donating rooftop systems and energy efficiency upgrades to a number of service organizations that use large amounts of hot water and electricity – including homeless shelters, group homes and rehabilitation centers.

By lowering operating costs significantly, WARN aims to help sister nonprofits apply more funds toward services for residents in need. The project was made possible by an unsolicited grant recognizing NC WARN’s work promoting rooftop solar power as superior to new fossil and nuclear power plants.

So far the Solar Rooftop Donation Program has led to sizeable electric and hot water installations at Urban Ministries of Durham and a hot water system at the Helen Wright Center for Women in Raleigh.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell said at a press conference today in front of Urban Ministries, “I want Durham to be a leader in reducing pollution and protecting our environment as well as in meeting the needs of all our citizens. We appreciate this project as an excellent example of how we can do all at the same time.”

NC WARN Assistant Director Rita Leadem today said, “We urge members of the public to consider a great investment in a solar hot water or electricity-generating system – either rooftop, carport or ground-mount. Such ‘distributed’ power helps protect all state residents from soaring electricity rates by avoiding costly, dangerous new power plants. And it helps us all by cutting greenhouse gases and other pollution.”

She added that solar provides an unmatched return on investment for home and business owners by locking in a very low cost for energy over the long term. “And the fuel – light from the sun – is free,” she said.

Patrice Nelson, Executive Director of Urban Ministries of Durham, said today, “We embrace effective innovations that help us move people from crisis to a place of long-term sustainability. Likewise, for years to come, these solar systems will free thousands of dollars per year that we can use directly for services to those in need, at least enough savings to pay for at least 2,000 meals in our café. We’re grateful for this contribution from NC WARN that empowers us to help neighbors in need.”

NC WARN says high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are now powering North Carolina homes for a net investment of $6,000 to $10,000 – about the price of a used car. Solar hot water systems are even more affordable. With federal and state tax incentives, systems can be paid off in 5-8 years while benefitting owners for 20-30 years and increasing the value of the home or business. Business owners can write off nearly the entire investment.

Solar helps owners do their part to cut pollution and slow global warming, which has been NC WARN’s primary focus over the past decade. The new campaign also aims to boost job creation and development of locally owned solar businesses in North Carolina. So far NC WARN is partnering with the professionals at Cary-based Yes! Solar Solutions and Solar Consultants of Chapel Hill.

Stew Miller is president of Yes! Solar Solutions, which NC WARN hired to install the Urban Ministries systems. At today’s press conference he explained, “Our business plan includes developing opportunities for non-profits to spread sustainability among all facets of the community. Urban Ministries of Durham’s renewable energy installation is another good example of how it can be done.”

To help maximize the Solar Rooftop Donation Program and its benefits to nonprofits, solar installers and residents across North Carolina, NC WARN welcomes additional tax-deductible donations of any amount. And they are urging North Carolinians to talk to the many solar professionals across the state about a solar electric or water heating system for their homes and businesses.

Today the group dedicated the Urban Ministries donation to the memory of Dr. John Blackburn, late chancellor of Duke University whose work with NC WARN helped lead to the new Solar Rooftop Donation Program.

“Solar power is here, it’s affordable and it’s a key to moving this state toward a clean energy future,” NC WARN’s Leadem added.


See Solar Rooftop Donation Program photos at

NC WARN, located in Durham, is a 24 year-old, member-based nonprofit tackling the accelerating crisis posed by climate change – along with the various risks of nuclear power – by watch-dogging utility practices and working for a swift North Carolina transition to energy efficiency and clean power generation.

Yes! Solar Solutions, based in Cary, N.C., designs and installs custom solar systems, both photovoltaic for electricity and thermal for hot water. We help our clients reduce energy use and save energy costs by identifying the best and most cost-effective energy solutions for their homes or offices.

Urban Ministries of Durham is a private, 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1983 that connects neighbors in need with sustainable food, clothing, shelter and supportive services. UMD is the initial access and triage point for Durham’s homelessness continuum of care network and focuses on re-housing homeless neighbors, offering emergency assistance, and collaborating with community partners to assist people in need.

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