Sunshine Superheroes

by Whatsblem the Pro

Looks like that troublemaker Sol is in jail again

Looks like that troublemaker Sol is in jail again

Black Rock Solar, a non-profit run by superhero burners, has just completed the installation of a large photovoltaic array on the roof of another non-profit that serves the homeless and hungry in Carson City, Nevada.

The array consists of 130 solar panels delivering a whopping 28 kilowatts of unmetered, mostly green electricity to Friends in Service Helping (FISH), Northern Nevada’s largest services provider to those in crisis. FISH provides a dizzying panoply of services to the needy, and served 18,337 Nevadans in 2012 alone.

The solar array is expected to cut FISH’s electric bill by an estimated $6,500 per year. With a projected lifetime of at least twenty-five years, the solar array – which cost $112,000 to build, at no cost to FISH – is worth approximately $162,500 in energy savings.

Jim Peckham, Executive Director at FISH, was quoted in Black Rock Solar’s press release, saying “the savings from this array will make it possible for us to do more for our people. For example, it could double the amount of food we can serve in our dining room, or cover the cost of the insulin we provide to diabetic patients.”

With the project completed just in time for the holidays, FISH will be able to put even more on the table at their 2013 Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and indigent. Along with cooked meals served in their free dining hall, the non-profit organization also provides those in need with groceries, showers, clean clothes, counseling, shelter space, and a free medical clinic; FISH also operates several thrift stores in the area, but 95% of their yearly budget comes from donations. Their motto is “not just a handout, but a hand up.”

Funding for the solar array came via a large rebate from NV Energy, supplemented by crowd-funding conducted by Black Rock Solar. Thanks to the rebate, Black Rock Solar was able to provide $9.33 worth of free solar to FISH for every donated dollar. “It’s an exciting opportunity to see donation dollars doing real good in the community,” noted Patrick McCully, Black Rock Solar’s Executive Director.

“This has been a special project for us,” said Marnee Benson, Deputy Director of Black Rock Solar, citing both the technical challenges of installing the array, and the funding requirements. “We’re pleased the array is completed just in time for the holidays, so FISH can start channeling more of their donations directly into programs and services.”

This is not Black Rock Solar’s first rodeo by a long shot. On October 21st of this year, they won the Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund Award after being nominated by the fund’s Board of Directors and then selected by public vote as the most deserving organization of 2013. The non-profit has installed a host of solar arrays totaling some 3.5 megawatts to date, all at zero cost or deep discount. Recipients of their energy-efficient generosity include a number of Northern Nevada’s other non-profits, along with Native American tribal councils, rural towns, and school districts. If you keep an eye peeled on your way in or out of Black Rock City, you just might see one or two of those installations along the way. The non-profit also makes a significant contribution on-playa at Burning Man each year.

Doin’ it right. Black Rock Solar, we salute you.

To find out more about Black Rock Solar, visit their website at, or drop in on their Facebook page.

Black Rock Solar in Black Rock City, Burning Man 2011

8 comments on “Sunshine Superheroes

  1. Pingback: The Old Bait-n-Switch | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. True, if gambling at the casino had, for the past 100 years, provided a long term investment return of over 9%, it would be just like that. The goal is the best result for the planet, and for the best result, you take risk, you don’t do the most conservative strategy. Rather you take a diversified set of risks, and you do better, in the long term, than the conservative strategy. Not for sure, just for all of history.

    If you want to help people and not green the planet, this does not change the equation. Help them the best they can. The hard truth is, as sexy as it seems on the surface, if you have $112,000 and you want to help people, giving them a solar array is neither the best way to help them nor the best way to reduce emissions. Do the math. The hard reality is, this is all about economics, if what you want to do is use money to help people.

    • Nonsense. The only reason Black Rock Solar had $112,000 was because NV Energy gives a rebate on photovoltaics. That ties the money to the technology; Black Rock Solar never had the option of using the money any other way.

      • Regardless of the facts you’ve been ignoring, I’m kind of astonished that anyone would level this kind of criticism in the first place, to tell you the truth.

        • That the taxpayer paid the price might shift the blame to the government picking the solution rather than subsidizing the problem, how can you say it’s bad to be critical of people making the wrong decision?

    • Another factor is the efficiency of the charity handling the money – ie how much they skim for themselves. At least solar is clean and incorruptible once it’s there , although panels are vulnerable to theft. I’d rather see this, than BMorg’s various non profits sitting in the cash and “managing” it

  3. Hmm. It’s good to be green but this seems odd. $112,000 invested in the market would return $10,900 per year at the historical return rate. You could just give FISH $6,500 in cash, and take the other $4,400 and use it to do things like buy efficient light bulbs and fridges for people who live where the power comes from coal, doing far, far, far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than having this solar plant offset the grid power in Carson city, which as far as I know is mostly natural gas, geothermal and a bit of diesel.

    Making energy production pollute less is a great goal, but it’s absolutely vital to run the numbers, compare to alternatives, and look at what sort of generation you are offsetting and how much emissions you will eliminate by the various methods.

    By a huge margin, giving out efficient light bulbs to people who get their power from coal plants is the cheapest way to make negawatts-hours, and solar is a fairly poor performer when it comes to negawatts. (with an “n”)

    So I throw down the gauntlet. Do you want to make the planet greener, or do you just want to do what makes you feel good?

    • “$112,000 invested in the market would return $10,900 per year at the historical return rate.”

      Past performance is no guarantee of future results. You might as well say that they should take the money to a casino and gamble with it.

      Also, this isn’t entirely about greening the planet. . . it’s about HELPING PEOPLE who need help.

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