Out of two large campuses in Perry and Wolfe Counties, Buckhorn Children and Family Services serves more than 200 children and youth throughout Kentucky each day. They strive to use trauma-informed care to provide a place of health, healing, and hope for every individual.
The youth they serve are among the most at-risk in the state. For example, 90 percent of children have a parent with history of drug abuse, with 60 percent having used themselves; while 75 percent of children have a history of attempted suicide, and 80 percent of children have a history of sexual abuse.
Currently, Buckhorn is partnering with Everybody Solar, a national nonprofit, to install as much as 41.4 kilowatt solar array at Roger’s Cottage, one of their buildings which has electricity bills exceeding $1,500 in winter months. After the solar is live, it is expected to save Buckhorn approximately $6,200 per year. Solar systems operate in excess of 25 years, meaning Buckhorn will save $155,000 over the lifetime of the system.
These savings are invaluable to the mission of Buckhorn. With each $100, they can serve an uninsured child for several days, offer recreation and special event activities, and do repairs essential to keeping their facility safe and up-to-date.
Everybody Solar’s mission is to help nonprofits fundraise for energy projects, and, as of January 2021, Everybody Solar has raised $58,873.00 of the $91,370 needed for the 21.4kW system install at Buckhorn (you can donate here!). All of the panels that will be used in the installation were donated to Everybody Solar for use at Buckhorn, further adding to the affordability and savings from this project.
“We look forward to the savings this new energy source will bring to us, as well as the opportunity for the children we serve and our staff to experience firsthand electricity from the sun. It has been a great pleasure working with Everybody Solar and Mountain Association,” Patty Wilder of Buckhorn said.
The energy experts at the Mountain Association are helping with technical details of the project, with HOMES, Inc. as the contractor. Three energy interns currently working with the Mountain Association to learn energy efficiency and solar skills helped with the installation of the system in December 2020. The install was an opportunity for them, as well as Buckhorn maintenance employees, to gain further hands-on experience with all aspects of a solar installation.
Two of the interns are based at other non-profits in Eastern Kentucky: Red Bird Mission and HOMES, Inc. Each organization has recently installed solar panels of their own and has been so inspired by their savings that they plan to continue to partner with the Mountain Association to help others in the region find solar and energy savings.
“Both businesses and non-profits in Eastern Kentucky are looking to solar as a way to stabilize their ever-increasing energy bills,” Carrie Ray, Mountain Association’s Energy Program Coordinator said. “One of the main utility providers in Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky Power, has increased rates by more than 30 percent in recent years, and recently filed and was approved for their third increase in five years. Finding savings now just makes sense.”
The Mountain Association encourages any business or organization who is interested in energy savings to contact them about their free services. If you are interested in solar, the time is now! Because many utilities are making changes to their solar crediting policies in 2021, the sooner you complete a project, the more you are likely to save over the life of your solar system.
Through a generous grant from the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, the Mountain Association is currently offering free energy assessments for non-profits based in Appalachian Kentucky. Apply here or contact us for more details.