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Solar Cascade Donates Solar Panel Systems to Local Nonprofits

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Solar Cascade Donates Solar Panel Systems to Local Nonprofits
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“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 [email protected]. 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.

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  • cadillackid

    I wish they would set up solar EV charging stations around the central part of the city.. say use the roofs of the new Bicycle shelters as a solar array.. and near it on the curb area an EV charger fed by the solar array…


  • lizless

    Great feature! I’ve been a long-time fan of Thom’s pioneering work, advocacy, and knowledge of solar technology here in Ohio. Thom has proven that with little capital investment (compared to large power grids), entire city blocks could be powered by rooftop solar panels. Every time I talk to Thom about what he’s working on in the world of solar, I walk away completely inspired. Thom is incredibly intelligent, and doing truly exciting and revolutionary work here in Ohio. Here’s hoping this project, and many others of his in this area, quickly takes off.

  • roy

    Great story, Solar Cascade is one of the coolest sustainability businesses in the region. Good reporting too.

  • mbeaumont

    Very cool! I had no idea these guys existed. Great piece!

  • As a WCBE 90.5 FM staffer, I SO look forward to the day when the sun can help send our broadcast waves into the aether from “high atop the LeVaque.”
    Thanks to Tom and thanks to CU for spreading the word.

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