By Dave Hart
Trish Hussey and Rita Leadem stretched a ribbon in front of a solar panel set up just outside the front door of the Freedom House Recovery Center on Thursday afternoon.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird stood beside them, wielding a blue-handled pair of scissors.
They stood – a bit incongruously, considering the event was a ribbon-cutting for a solar power project – in the shade, under the building’s overhanging roof.
Fortunately, the actual working solar panels on the roof overhead, which crews were installing as Kinnaird dispatched the ribbon with one efficient snip, were bathed in full summer sunshine.
“We all need to recognize the people on the roof,” Kinnaird said. “It’s 95 degrees, and they’re up there doing the work. So we should say thank you to them, too.”
The solar panels will provide hot water and electricity to Freedom House, which provides a wide range of services for people with addiction and mental illness.
The system was donated by NC WARN, the third such installation in its new Solar Rooftop Donation Program.
“We anticipate that this will save us thousands of dollars every year in power bills, and all that money we save can instead go directly into providing services,” said Hussey, executive director of Freedom House.
“But this goes far beyond just the financial savings,” she continued. “It’s also about raising awareness.