“It’s not always easy to give stuff away.” That’s been Thomas Van Cleef’s most recent discovery at his start-up, Solar Cascade. The business gives away solar power, and that’s a harder sell than you might think.
Of course, sunshine is generally free, but the equipment that turns sunshine into power: that’s not cheap.
Maybe that’s why Van Cleef’s offer is just a little hard to believe. In fact, Solar Cascade is a non-profit that was founded with the express purpose of donating solar power systems to schools, nonprofit organizations and hospitals. It’s presently working with groups such as Colonial Hills Elementary, Third Hand Bicycle Shop, and WCBE.
Solar Cascade works with another do-gooder group to install the installation: Solar by Soldiers. Solar by Soldiers is an organization that employs veterans to install clean energy systems. As it turns out, returning vets are the perfect match for solar installation, in terms of skill sets. Eric Zimmer, founder of Solar by Soldiers, explains the cross-over, “They have the skills and ability to execute a task in a consistent way; quickly, efficiently and with a high degree of quality.”
After the installation, here’s what’s really cool about the gift of solar power: it keeps on giving.
“Solar power donated provides immediate savings – and the savings increase as power rates become expensive,” points out Van Cleef. “Solar panels have no moving parts, are warrantied for thirty years, and the only maintenance is cleaning. It’s a gift that keeps on giving for decades.”
Solar Cascade itself is powered by donations. Like solar power itself, a little goes a long way. According to Van Cleef, a dollar donated to a project generates over three dollars for the organization.
Van Cleef is sort of a math whiz, and patiently explains the equation, “Many factors make this difficult to say definitively but, typically, for example, a 100 KWe system (12 homes of power) that generates power for 40 years with 5% energy inflation per year will save over a million dollars in energy spending. What donor wouldn’t want to leave that kind of legacy for a non-profit?”
To find out more about Solar Cascade and its projects, check out www.solarcascade.org. Or contact Van Cleef at firstname.lastname@example.org. When he’s not working on the sunshine team, he’s investigating the dark side on a canine search and rescue team, with cadaver, trailing and tracking dogs.
Photo via Solar Cascade.