Soup kitchen gets solar panel donation

Workers with Simplicity Solar install 240 panels Monday afternoon on the roof of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, 245 S. First St. The company secured a $78,000 grant from the Governor’s Energy Office to help with the project. Catholic Outreach can expect a savings of $700 to $900 a month on utility costs.

A local company opted to shine a light on a local nonprofit organization.

Solar panels that were installed over the long weekend at the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach should save the soup kitchen and the charity group’s operations up to 85 percent of its utility costs.

“The idea is donating something that can be used by everybody, everyday,” said Alan Deslongchamp, co-owner of Simplicity Solar.

Former Simplicity Solar owner Fred Pittenger had the idea to donate to Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, but it required time for those plans came to fruition.

Deslongchamp and co-owner Andre van Schaften worked to secure a $78,000 grant from the Governor’s Energy Office. Simplicity Solar and other companies gave items to install the panels.

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, 245 S. First St., could save $700 to $900 a month on utility costs. Those savings could be generated back to community members who benefit from services, Deslongchamp said.

The solar array consists of 240 panels that generate 57.6 kilowatts of power.

Rummel Electric and electrician Ron Slade donated services to complete the project. Fronius, a company that develops inverters, donated the equipment that connects solar power to the electrical grid. Focus Energy donated shipping costs on the solar panels, Deslongchamp said.

“We were able to do it without a penny out of their pocket,” he said of Catholic Outreach.

With the help of a Community Development Block Grant, Grand Valley Catholic Outreach recently was able to reroof its leaky headquarters. Other energy-efficient grants from the Governor’s Office made it possible to purchase new boilers, window repairs, energy-efficient appliances and light sensors, and to insulate pipes on the aging building. Similar energy upgrades were completed at the organization’s Day Center, 302 Pitkin Ave.

All of the energy updates and the new solar array should create savings that can go to help folks that the agency serves, said Sister Karen Bland, executive director of the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach.

“The amazing thing about this is it wasn’t my idea,” she said of the new solar power.


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