Eric Stikes: Nevada County solar nonprofit wins innovation award from U.S. Department of Energy
Long-time Nevada County residents and local energy professionals have teamed up to form a nonprofit company called Good Sun, a federally-registered 501(C)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing low cost solar solutions to low-to-mid-income communities, businesses and families.
In May of this year, the U.S. Dept. of Energy announced that Good Sun and their Local Power team has officially been recognized as a “Local Innovator,” having one of the most creative and unique business models out of 170 teams from over 40 U.S. states and territories that competed in the Solar in Your Community Challenge: a $5 million prize competition from the D.O.E.’s Solar Technologies Office which aims to expand solar electricity access across the nation.
In addition to the recognition, Good Sun was awarded technical assistance funding to help further their mission. With this support, they have advanced several solar installation projects in Nevada County including: a 12kW roof-mounted system at Bitney Prep High School; a 12kW ground-mount array at Yuba River Charter School; and 12kW systems currently in progress for the Grass Valley Charter School (GVCS) and the Hospitality House homeless shelter. The shelter project is a collaborative effort with California Solar Electric Company.
In addition to local projects, Good Sun also does service work in Africa and other developing regions of the world. As one of the founders, I recently left my day job to accept a full-time position with Good Sun as executive director.
Doing service work in impoverished communities is why I trained as an engineer and why I got into the solar business in the first place. I’ve spent the last 20 years in the for-profit contracting world and I’m grateful to now have the opportunity to serve both my local and global community through this nonprofit. It’s very rewarding work.
In order to raise funding for their work, Good Sun has opened a solar panel resale business currently located at 10875 Rough and Ready Highway in Grass Valley. The resale operation enables low-income buyers to afford solar equipment, while addressing the growing solar panel waste issue head-on by keeping still-functioning solar panels out of landfill.
Because of its unique approach, the Good Sun model is the basis for a research study at Harvard University’s School of Extension Studies for Sustainability. To advance this model and increase their impact, Good Sun has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Underwriters Laboratories, and the Solar Energy Industries Association as a candidate for further federal funding through the U.S. Solar Energy Technologies Office.
Good Sun is currently looking for volunteers at the administrative and project levels. For more information, to donate to a project, or to volunteer, please visit http://www.goodsun.life, send an email to email@example.com, or call 302-Good-Sun (302-466-3786).
Eric Stikes is the executive director of Good Sun. He lives in Grass Valley.
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