St. Charles Solar Project Helps Build Community

St. Charles Church in North Portland’s Cully neighborhood wanted to engage in a solar project that extended beyond energy generation. They wanted to cultivate a sustainable ethos within their community and foster a deeper connection to nature and stewardship of the planet for future generations.

Upgrading a Non-Profit With Solar Helps Build Community

The parish partnered with a local neighborhood organization, Verde, and working with Neil Kelly, took advantage of federal funds and grants for non-profit organizations through Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program to help pay for a new solar system.

“We would not have received the grant without the partnership with Neil Kelly and Verde,” says Leif Kehrwald, Pastoral Administrator at St. Charles Church. “Neil Kelly provided the technical expertise needed in order to even complete the grant application and Verde gave us that neighborhood community connection that certainly made the grant more appealing.”

With the savings, Neil Kelly was able to upgrade the parish’s electrical distribution system, install additional equipment, and install a new electrical service dedicated just to the solar. On the backside, Pacific Power combined two meters, equaling a net cost for the parish.

A Neil Kelly solar installer connects solar panels during installation at St Charles Church.
Above: A Neil Kelly installer connects solar panels during installation at St Charles Church.

Solar Power Installation Challenges, Met

The challenge for Neil Kelly was working with an existing system that couldn’t be upgraded due to costs, coupled with the condition of the building’s 1950s roof.

“The framework that holds the solar panels themselves had to be bolted into the roof, so Neil Kelly had to figure out exactly where those beams were from the inside,” says Leif. “The only way to find them was when they were up on the roof. That was no small job.”

In the end, Neil Kelly was able to install solar panels on the existing roof, leaving room for roof replacement that will most likely have to occur in the future. “Working with Neil Kelly provided us with energy savings of course but also gave us an opportunity to educate our parishioners as well as neighbors, about the value of clean energy,” says Leif.

Solar Energy Can Help Nonprofits and Communities

The value of clean energy can’t be overstated—turning to solar power has been shown to positively impact the environment and the health of local communities. Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, and using solar energy greatly reduces both greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, using solar power generates electricity without polluting air and water sources, which can reduce the risk of serious health issues like respiratory illnesses, heart attacks, and cancer.

When considering solar for non-profits, this means less money spent on energy and more money allocated for their causes; after the initial investment, non-profits can benefit from free energy for decades. Additionally, using renewable energy can help nonprofits get noticed in their community—and by prospective donors. Today, non-profit organizations are eligible for more solar incentives than ever before, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Now, nonprofits are eligible for the clean energy production tax credit, as well as other incentives and financing options.

Nonprofit Sustainable Energy Solutions With Neil Kelly

The benefits of installing solar are enormous, from lowering your electricity bills to reducing your carbon footprint. Whether you want to install solar during a major building update or add solar during a roof replacement, our experts can design and install a solar energy system that meets your needs—both now and in the future.

The state of Oregon and the federal government offer robust incentives to install solar for non-profits. How do you cut through the red tape, find the incentives, and start taking advantage of the benefits? Neil Kelly is committed to connecting businesses and nonprofits with leading incentives that save money during installation and beyond. Our partnerships with local utilities like Pacific Power and PGE, and organizations like Verde and Prosper Portland make it possible for us to provide cost savings and rebates that are a perfect match for your project.

There’s never been a better time put to the sun to work for your property. Connect with Neil Kelly Solar today!