Green Watts for Good

About Nebraskans for Solar’s Green Watts for Good Program

We seek partnerships through our Green Watts for Good Program on solar projects as part of community development and revitalization, such as the PV installation in collaboration with the Seventy Five North Revitalization Corporation on a home in the Highlander Neighborhood in North Omaha.

We also seek to partner on photovoltaic projects with Nebraska food pantries, homeless shelters, children’s homes and other nonprofit organizations that focus on food and housing security in our communities. Current partnering nonprofits include No More Empty Pots in North Omaha, Heartland Hope Mission in South Omaha, and Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children in Fremont. 

Energy is generally a major expense for nonprofits that provide a hand up to people in need in our local communities. Donating solar energy through our Green Watts for Good program is a way philanthropists of all ages can help nonprofits save on their electricity bills each month for a very long time, as solar panels typically last 25 or more years. 

OUR PROJECTS

No More Empty Pots

Nebraskans for Solar, No More Empty Pots, and Creighton University are collaborating on the common goal of reducing the Food Hub’s electricity use through improved energy management and solar energy. The money No More Empty Pots will save on electric bills will provide meals to a great number of people over many years.

In separate campaigns, Nebraskans for Solar and No More Empty Pots raised funds for this purpose through Omaha Gives’ annual giving day on May 20th. Nebraskans for Solar raised nearly $6,000. An additional, anonymous donation to our Green Watts for Good fund brought the total amount to $10,000.

No More Empty Pots, founded by Nancy Williams, raised over $25,000, matching our contribution over two-and-a-half times! According to an Omaha World-Herald article on May 21st, No More Empty Pots was also the first nonprofit to receive Omaha Gives’ hourly-drawing prize of $1,000!

Our next steps will be for our board members to meet with CEO Nancy Williams and Dr. Andrew Baruth, Creighton University Energy Technology Program Chair, and students from his Energy Innovation class, to create a final plan.

A top priority for No More Empty Pots is for their building to be net zero energy.

Under Dr. Baruth’s direction, students from his Energy Innovation course conducted a comprehensive energy study of No More Empty Pots’ building over the past academic year. The students recently shared a recorded presentation with No More Empty Pots and Nebraskans for Solar that includes several options for reducing electricity through improved energy management and solar energy, along with each proposal’s estimated cost.

Additionally, Nebraskans for Solar’s Energy Conservation Projects Coordinator, Louis Lester, analyzed No More Empty Pots’ electricity bills and demand charges and has recommended ways they can be reduced.

At a meeting with Nancy Williams, she asked about the possibility of using land No More Empty Pots owns for a solar project. Nebraskans for Solar board members discussed the ways in which a larger project of this kind potentially could be financed and developed in collaboration with OPPD. A larger solar project, for which there isn’t sufficient room on their roof, would substantially move No More Empty Pots toward their net-zero goal. 

Both sets of information gathered by Creighton University and Nebraskans for Solar will help No More Empty Pots to make an informed decision on a plan as we discuss, evaluate and explore each proposed option together. Stay tuned! We will provide regular updates to you as our work progresses.

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Heartland Hope Mission

Heartland Hope Mission sponsors two programs for families and individuals in the Omaha metropolitan area. The nonprofit’s mission is “to be more than a pantry by providing clients with resources to be food secure and self-sufficient in a hope-filled environment.”

  • Heartland Hope Mission’s Homelessness and Hunger Prevention Program provides assistance in the form of a week’s supply of food, as well as clothing and household items.
  • Heartland Hope Mission’s Jobs Paths Program helps their clients to overcome barriers to employment and to find job training or education opportunities. The nonprofit invites businesses that are in high demand of employees to come to their facility and provide employment information for their clients. The businesses conduct on-site interviews, and Heartland Hope Mission provides assistance with the application process.

Nebraskans for Solar & Heartland Hope Mission’s Solar Project 

We are partnering with Heartland Hope Mission to install a 5-kilowatt solar project on the roof of their building at 2021 U Street in Omaha, Individual contributions to our Green Watts for Good program and donations made during our Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign last December, sponsored by SHARE Omaha, will pay for the PV system.

A Request for Proposals was sent to all Nebraska solar businesses on February 14, 2020.
The project bid was awarded to Interconnection Systems Inc (ISI) based in Central City, Nebraska. Ric Hansen at ISI, which is owned by Wayne Williams, is installing the system. Updates will be posted here as the project progresses. ISI installed a 10-kilowatt rooftop PV system at Duchesne Academy in Omaha in 2019. (See Solar Examples).

Project Lead Coordinators: Louis Lester, Ken Deffenbacher, and Helen Deffenbacher, Nebraskans for Solar; Chelsea Salifou, Dodji Salifou, and Scott Kinkaid, Heartland Hope Mission

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Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children

The Masonic Eastern Star Home in Fremont has been providing care for children in need for more than 70 years. Now Nebraskans for Solar, the Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children, and the Fremont Department of Utilities have collaborated on a model initiative for all nonprofits located in Nebraska towns and cities with community solar programs similar to Fremont’s.

Participating Fremont Department of Utilities customers can purchase solar panels for $200 each from Fremont’s Solar Farm ll to reduce their monthly electric bill, or sign up for solar energy shares. Everyone, no matter where they live, can also buy solar panels for $200 each to donate to the Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children or another local nonprofit.

Through our Green Watts for Good program, Nebraskans for Solar provided a $5,000 grant to the Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children. The nonprofit provided an equal match of $5,000 to purchase a total of 50 solar panels in Fremont’s Community Solar Program.

The 50 solar panels will generate enough energy to cover 50% of the electricity consumed in the Leonard A. Johnson 4-H Barn, shown in the above photograph.

To learn more about Fremont’s Community Solar Farm II and Nebraskans for Solar’s initiative, or to donate one or more solar panels to the Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children or another local nonprofit, call the Fremont Department of Utilities: 402-727-2630 or email: Lottie.Mitchell@fremontne.gov or Brian.Newton@fremontne.gov

Recommended Reading: Masonic Home gets solar energy grant, by Tammy Real-McKeighan, News Editor, Fremont Tribune

Project Lead Coordinators: Leo Arens, Nebraskans for Solar; Ron Giesselmann, Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children; Brian Newton and Lottie Mitchell, City of Fremont Department of Utilities

Top Right Photo: Ron Giesselmann, Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children; Helen Deffenbacher, Ken Deffenbacher, Leo Arens, Nebraskans for Solar

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Highlander Neighborhood Home In North Omaha 

Nebraskans for Solar and Seventy Five North Revitalization Corporation partnered on the installation of a 4-kilowatt solar system on a home in the Highlander neighborhood, a mixed-income community in North Omaha, shown in the above photo.

The solar panels and components and the installation costs were funded by Nebraskans for Solar’s Green Watts for Good Program through individual contributions directly to the fund and our 2019 Omaha Gives campaign sponsored by the Omaha Community Foundation.

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Four Habitat for Humanity Homes – Solar Hot Water Systems

Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha partnered on the installation of solar hot water systems on three newly-built Habitat homes: two in North Omaha and another in South Omaha. A fourth solar hot water system was installed on a rehabilitated home in Benson. The solar collectors, shown in the above photo, are much more compact than photovoltaic (PV) modules, but these generate the equivalent power of a 3-kW PV system. Money for the projects was raised through crowdfunding on Indiegogo, individual contributions, and donations to our Omaha Gives campaign, an annual event sponsored by the Omaha Community Foundation. Photo Credit: Blake Johnson / Habitat for Humanity of Omaha 

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Ways You Can Get Involved In Green Watts for Good

  1. Learn more about Green Watts for Good at NFS-sponsored events, on our website and Facebook page, and from our newsletters.
  2. If your ecology or sustainability club, faith group, foundation or  business would like to partner with Nebraskans for Solar to develop a solar project to benefit a nonprofit in your community, please discuss your idea with one or more of our board members, send an email to: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com, or come to one of our board meetings, held the second Saturday of each month at 9:30 am.
  3. You can also donate to a solar project by sending a check payable to Nebraskans for Solar, with Green Watts for Good in the memo line, and mailing it to: 

Metro Credit Union
PO Box 390696
Omaha, Nebraska 68139

From all of us at Nebraskans for Solar, thank you for your contributions!