Virginia homeless shelter and recovery center adds 313 kW rooftop solar array


A Mid-Atlantic homeless shelter and addiction recovery center will now generate its electricity from renewable sources after installing a 313 kW rooftop solar system from Secure Solar Futures.

Non-profit CARITAS, or Congregations Around Richmond To Assure Shelter, powered up its CARITAS Center facility in central Virginia with 782 Heliene solar panels and Chint CPS SCA25 KTL-DO power inverters, making the system the largest array on the East Coast providing solar energy to a homeless shelter or recovery center.

Secure Solar Futures, a Staunton, Virginia-based solar installer, deployed solar equipment at no upfront cost to the non-profit organization and will operate the system under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement. Over that term, CARITAS will purchase all the electricity generated by the solar system from Secure Futures at a cost lower than available at the local grid.

To fund the project, CARITAS is using a $17,000 grant from the RVA Solar Fund, which is administered by the Community Foundation for greater Richmond. 

“Solar power will save money on energy that CARITAS can apply to their mission of helping people improve their lives,” said Ryan McAllister, chief executive officer of Secure Solar Futures. “The flat roof of the former warehouse building that they transformed into a beautiful energy efficient space was perfectly suited to hosting a solar power system large enough to make CARITAS a leader on clean energy.”

The CARITAS Center was built in 2020 in a 150,000 square foot renovated tobacco warehouse. The facility features additional energy efficiency solutions such as 45 solar tubes, which filter natural light throughout the center, as well as Energy Star appliances, and toilets with automatic shut-off functions.

The non-profit center features a women’s recovery program and sober-living apartment community in addition to its emergency shelter, workforce development program, and Furniture Bank programs.

With more than 100 employees, the CARITAS Center and a nearby facility in 2021 provided an aggregate of 36,000 nights of shelter at its recovery program and 15,653 nights of shelter at its emergency shelter location.

CARITAS was incorporated in 1987 in Richmond after starting out with an all-volunteer program effort called “Winter Cots” in response to a rise in homelessness in the early 1980’s. In September, the non-profit announced that long-time president and chief executive officer Karen Stanley will retire at the end of the year after serving for 22 years at the helm of the regional non-profit.

Effective January 1, 2023, non-profit organizations are eligible for the 30% solar ITC credit as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. After 2024, systems larger than 1 MW need to meet specific domestic manufacturing requirements to receive the full 30% credit. If they do not, they’ll only receive a portion of the credit, depending on the year. Systems smaller than 1 MW will receive the full 30% ITC credit regardless of domestic equipment.

Secure Futures Solar is a commercial-scale solar developer in central Virginia. In June, the company launched a solar apprenticeship program for high school students in the coalfield region of Southwest Virginia. After classroom training, Secure Futures Solar students moved on to install rooftop solar on their public school systems in Lee and Wise counties. At the conclusion of the program, qualifying graduates will be offered permanent local positions. For further details on the Virginia solar apprenticeship program visit here or the company’s website.

The CARITAS Center, Richmond, VA.

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