Solar Power

119 Solar Panels Added to the Roof of the Nature Museum

solar panels Solar PowerCrews were busy in late December installing 119 photovoltaic solar panels that will generate 38.8 kW of electricity and bring Grandfather’s total capacity to 50 kW.  The added production will offset 25% of the electricity used in the Museum building each year.

This expansion of Grandfather’s renewable energy production represents a partnership between the Stewardship Foundation, Collaborative Solar, LLC of Boone and Heartwood Farms Properties, LLC of Hickory. Grandfather Mountain leased space on the roof of the Museum to Heartwood Farms, who with the expertise of Collaborative Solar installed and owns the solar panels.

Heartwood Farms’ investment is not limited to increasing Grandfather capacity to generate renewable energy.  They also are paying for the design and installation of an interpretive kiosk to educate the public about solar power. Grandfather’s educators are working with Collaborative Solar on that phase of the project now.

The only reason the Stewardship Foundation even considered renting the roof and allowing another company to collect and sell its solar energy is that the federal government offers tax credits to encourage investment in renewable energy.  Because the Stewardship Foundation is tax-exempt and pays no federal taxes, Grandfather can not benefit from those solar tax credits.

The owners of Heartwood Farms, however, have just sold a very successful business founded and built over their entire professional careers – so they can very much use those tax credits this year.

Under this agreement, Grandfather gets (1) to act on our commitment to environmental sustainability, (2) the satisfaction of knowing that green power offsets 25% of the electricity used at the Nature Museum each year  (3) the installation of an interpretive display to educate our visitors about solar, and (4) a small rental income.

The investors get (1) to use the renewable energy tax credits, (2) a few thousand dollars a year from selling power to the grid, and (3) the satisfaction of “doing well by doing good” in their community.

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  • Last summer I returned to Grandfather Mountain after a more than 40 year absence and the return trip was even more magical than the initial trip. I was able to appreciate the majestic views of nature and all it's splendor with my grown son and my mother. We spent an adventure-filled day stopping at every spot mentioned on the CD and enjoyed a great deal of time in the animal habitats, especially the bears. My son's nickname is Bear, and frankly he resembles at least one of Grandfather Mountain's bears. We went up to the top by car since the hike was a little tough for my mom, however, she and my son crossed the Mile High Swinging Bridge together while I recorded their experience. Upon their return I crossed solo and was able to appreciate the views from the bridge and mentally check "GM Mile high Bridge" off my bucket list. My hope is to be able to visit Grandfather Mountain as often as possible and during every colorful season of the year to watch Mother Nature show off one of her greatest treasures.

    Palm Harbor, FL
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