Update – This project was voted as Solar Builder Magazine’s Ground-Mounted Project of the Year. Check out this YouTube video describing the project:
Buckhorn Children and Family Services officially opened a new solar array on their Perry County campus on June 30, 2021. The organization partnered with Everybody Solar, a national nonprofit, to install a solar system at Roger’s Cottage, a building that currently has electricity bills exceeding $1,500 in winter months. The solar array is expected to save Buckhorn as much as $6,200 per year.
Solar systems operate in excess of 25 years, meaning Buckhorn is on track to save approximately $155,000 over the lifetime of the system. These savings are invaluable to the mission of Buckhorn. With each $100 saved, 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.
“Seeing the facility and solar installation at Buckhorn first hand, and learning more about the quickly changing landscape in Kentucky, I am thrilled that Everybody Solar was able to help make this project happen in what is a growing market in the middle of coal country,” said Everybody Solar Executive Director Youness Scally. “We hope many more solar projects will be inspired by this installation.”
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. Ninety percent of children have a parent with history of drug abuse, and 60 percent have used themselves. At least 75 percent of children have a history of attempted suicide, and 80 percent have a history of sexual abuse.
Roger’s Cottage, where the new solar system is located, is transitioning from a youth housing facility and will soon open up as a women’s recovery center.
Everybody Solar’s mission is to help nonprofits fundraise for energy projects. They helped Buckhorn raise the $91,370 needed for their system.
“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.
Experts at the Mountain Association helped with technical details of the project, and HOMES, Inc., out of Letcher County, served as the contractor. Energy interns with the Mountain Association helped with the installation of the system. The install was an opportunity for them, as well as Buckhorn maintenance employees, to gain further hands-on experience with many aspects of a solar installation.
“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.”
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. Audits for small businesses are also currently free.