Photo: Pathway Services Unlimited Inc.
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Pathway Services has installed solar panels on its rooftop to help offset energy use.
The nonprofit organization, which provides services to adults with developmental disabilities, had the panels installed this spring using a funding mechanism called a power purchase agreement. The mechanism allowed the agency to go solar without an initial capital financing mechanism.
Philip Harrison, maintenance and transportation director at Pathway, said 1,522 solar panels were installed on the roof of its building at 1905 W Morton Ave.
Because of the buildingâ€™s size, utilities are one of the agencyâ€™s larger expense, Harrison said.
He said the installation should help make electricity costs more manageable.
â€śUtilities are one of the bigger checks that we write,â€ť Harrison said. â€śWeâ€™re always looking for a way to create some savings.â€ť
Harrison said that Pathwayâ€™s status as a nonprofit had presented issues for solar installation in the past. Many incentives for installing solar panels are geared toward tax credits that nonprofits cannot receive.
He was introduced to the concept of a power purchase agreement by Shannon Fulton, vice president of Illinois development for the Bloomington and St. Louis-based company StraightUp Solar.
Through the agreement, Peoria-based project developer Hawk-Attollo LLC was able to coordinate ownership of the solar array with Chicago-based investment office New Frontier Holdings. The investment office owns the system and sells the solar energy produced to Pathways at a lower cost that what the agency has been paying.
Harrison said that in addition to the savings, the solar panels will help reduce the companyâ€™s carbon footprint and improve emissions in the community.
Since completion in March, Harrison said, the solar panels kept Pathway from producing 447,000 pounds in carbon dioxide emissions.
He said he hopes Pathwayâ€™s use of solar energy can be an example for the area.
â€śWe do hope to provide some leadership in the Jacksonville area that this can be done,â€ť Harrison said. â€śCertainly in traditional for-profit business models, thatâ€™s where you normally see these kind of projects, and people have the assumption that not-for-profits canâ€™t do these things.â€ť