Empowering local nonprofits: California Solar Electric Company, Good Sun Solar give energy project to SYRCL
Special to the Sierra Sun
California Solar Electric Company and Good Sun are teaming up to give the gift of solar electricity to the organization responsible for protecting the South Yuba River and greater watershed for nearly 40 years – the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL).
This spring, thanks to a generous donation from the two solar companies, SYRCL will be generating energy from the sun at its office building located in Nevada City’s historic district at 313 Railroad Avenue.
Good Sun Solar will donate almost all costs affiliated with a 31 kilowatt system including solar panels and mounting hardware and California Solar will donate the labor to install it as soon as the city approves the project and a new roof is installed by MEC Builds, Inc.
It’s not the first time worker cooperative California Solar and nonprofit Good Sun have collaborated. In 2019, they donated and installed a solar electric system on the roof of Hospitality House’s year round community homeless shelter, Utah’s Place.
Why do they do it? It’s all about the feel-good vibes of giving back and building a more resilient community.
“For us, we are wanting to ‘empower’ our local vital nonprofits. By investing in donations of labor, we are giving power to these organizations that equate to more programs, in this case protecting one of our most sacred community assets, the Yuba River. Through the gift of electricity, our gift keeps giving as long as the sun shines, empowering SYRCL to protect our rivers in perpetuity,” said Lars Örtegren, General Manager and Co-Founder of California Solar.
A big dream is realized
SYRCL is excited to go solar with the help of Cal Solar and Good Sun. When SYRCL transitioned from tenant to property owner last year with the purchase of the office building they had rented for eight years, it made this change possible.
Becoming owners of the building allows SYRCL to become a greener organization. The addition of solar a will help SYRCL reduce its carbon footprint and save on monthly power bills. By creating clean energy from the sun, SYRCL will reduce its reliance on coal, natural gas, and petroleum.
“As a nonprofit, we stretch every dollar as far as possible to achieve our mission. We are grateful for California Solar and Good Sun Solar’s generosity — this project wouldn’t have been possible were it not for their charitable donation. It really is the gift that keeps on giving,” said Melinda Booth, Executive Director for SYRCL.
The building houses the group’s operation that includes more than 20 full-time staff and is the headquarters for Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the largest environmental film festival in the U.S. Upstairs, nonprofit Sierra Harvest works its magic supporting a thriving local food system by providing healthy food education for families, building gardens and connecting local farms to schools, hospitals and more.
California Solar is a long-time supporter of local nonprofits like SYRCL and Sierra Harvest. Every year, Cal Solar organizes a team for the annual Yuba River Cleanup, pulling trash out of the most difficult to get to corners of the Yuba. Örtegren considers the Yuba River to be the crown jewel of Nevada County and says it was the river that first attracted him to move to the area. He hopes the California Solar donation will inspire others to action.
“As a small community business, and as a worker co-op, we see business as a force of good in the local community. This isn’t something that is unique to us as most locally owned businesses are lifelines to our local nonprofits. Small businesses support families, who spend their money locally. That being said, as a mission driven business, and as a Certified B Corporation, we measure our success through the triple bottom line, taking into account profits, our staff and the community,” said Örtegren.
For 22 years, California Solar has provided affordable, reliable alternative energy. Giving back to social and environmental causes that make a difference is a big part of the company’s commitment to building a more resilient community.
In 2019, Cal Solar worked with Project Equity to become the first worker-owned cooperative in Nevada County and the first worker-owned solar company in California. Last year, California Solar Electric Company became the first certified B Corporation in Nevada County.
Good Sun Solar, a 501(C) (3) nonprofit provides solar to underserved communities, schools and other nonprofits. They also repurpose solar equipment that would otherwise wind up in the landfill. They have funded and installed overseas projects in Uganda and Italy, electrified three schools in Nevada County and are growing collaborations with Habitat for Humanity locally and beyond to the greater Sacramento area.
“We’re a nonprofit who helps other nonprofits. It’s really a win for everybody,” said Vince Lucia, Executive Director at Good Sun.
SYRCL was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, SYRCL is working hard to restore wild salmon and native habitat within the 1,340 square miles of the watershed.
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