Solar Will Help N.H. Soup Kitchen ‘Get More Food To Hungry People’

The Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter (NSKS), which provides food and shelter to thousands of people in need, is set to become the first solar-powered nonprofit in Nashua, N.H., and one of the first solar-powered soup kitchens in the Northeast. The NSKS board recently contracted with solar provider ReVision Energy for the installation and operation of a 39.3 kW solar array, augmenting its longstanding commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability while saving thousands of dollars in electricity costs per year.

“Do you want to pay for electricity, or do we want to get more food to hungry people?” says NSKS Executive Director Michael Reinke. “Partnering with ReVision Energy, we will model sustainability and devote even more of our donor’s dollar to helping meet the most basic needs of our community. It’s a no-brainer.”

According to ReVision Energy, NSKS is expected to save roughly $176,282 over the life of the solar array, offsetting a significant share of its electric load. The 131 solar panels, mounted on both flat and pitched roof sections of the NSKS facility in downtown Nashua, are expected to produce approximately 43,080 kWh of clean electricity per year. ReVision Energy says the panels come with a 25-year warranty and are expected to produce efficiently for at least 40 years. A Web-based monitoring platform will allow NSKS to track the array’s performance in real time.

“ReVision Energy is honored to partner with such a vital nonprofit on the front lines of fighting hunger and homelessness in our community, and we are inspired by their longstanding commitment to sustainability,” says Dan Weeks, director of market development at ReVision Energy. “As a Certified B Corporation, we consider it an integral part of our mission to make solar and other clean technologies accessible to nonprofits, thereby saving them thousands of dollars a year to do even more of the important work they do.”

ReVision Energy will own the system through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with NSKS, and the financing tool will allow the nonprofit to benefit from solar power on a cashflow-neutral basis and with no upfront cost. Under the terms, NSKS agrees to buy electricity from ReVision Energy at a fixed rate below its current cost of electricity. At year seven of the agreement, ReVision adds, the nonprofit will have the option to purchase the system at a significant discount, enabling it to generate free solar power for decades to come.

“The PPA arrangement gives NSKS the ability to leverage the economic and environmental benefits of solar power while allowing ReVision Energy to make community investments that align with its core values of creating positive change in the world,” says Weeks.

Reinke notes NSKS has long been committed to being a good steward of the earth’s resources. After a $2.7 million capital campaign, NSKS completed renovations of a former VFW building in 2014, including comprehensive weatherization and other energy efficiency measures. Its food pantry and community kitchen provide a means to reduce food waste and encourage the consumption of healthy and nutritious food while setting an example for the larger community.

From a financial perspective, the solar array will also benefit NSKS’ bottom line. Its current budget includes more than $20,000 a year in electric costs, which will be significantly reduced by solar. Although no upfront payment was required to go solar, the project received a $7,000 challenge grant from a donor-advised fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

“We feed the hungry and shelter those without a home. Our mission is possible only because our volunteers, our supporters, and, as an organization, we are able to direct the generous bounty of the earth to those in need,” says Reinke.

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