Featured photo: Diana Rosario stands in her backyard where you can see the dozen solar panels on her roof. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)
When Wynetta Delois Hunt’s living room ceiling started leaking a few years ago, she didn’t think fixing it was going to be such a transformative process.
These days, as drivers go by, they’ll see the newly installed shingles on Hunt’s roof as well as the maroon awning that stretches across the front of her home. They might notice that her porch has been recently painted, the neatly trimmed shrubs and hostas that round out the landscaping. A little harder to discern are the objects that peek out just above the roofline on either side of the brick chimney. Once in Hunt’s backyard however, the picture becomes more clear. Taking up most of the surface area on the back of her roof are more than a dozen brand-new solar panels.
“I like it for the simple reason that God blessed me and blessed someone else to tell me about it,” Hunt says. “Therefore, I agreed to getting the solar panels.”
Hunt, who has owned the small two-bedroom house off of Freeman Mill Road in the Smith Homes neighborhood for almost three decades, is one of 10 Greensboro homeowners who had solar panels installed on their homes last year. A collaborative partnership between a number of local and national organizations made it possible to provide the energy-efficient structures, normally quite expensive, to the homeowners for free.
“So far, the saving for the 10 homes combined has been about $4,000,” said Brandon Pendry of Southern Energy Management, an energy-efficiency and solar power company. “That’s an average of $400 saved per family.”
A collaborative spirit
The installation of the 10 solar projects, which were set up in November 2021, was due to the combined efforts of four different organizations: the national HBCU Clean Energy Initiative, NC A&T State University’s Center for Energy Research and Technology, Southern Energy Management and Community Housing Solutions.
It started with the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative, a national advocacy group for community development around clean energy. In the last few years, the organization has been conducting roundtables to bring funders on board to complete some of their work. In 2020, the JPB Foundation awarded the group $700,000 to install solar panels for moderate-to-low-income families across the country. After connecting with Southern Energy Management in Raleigh and A&T, Greensboro was picked as the project’s first city.
“A&T brought forward partners that they already had including Community Housing Solutions,” said Henry Golatt, the chief of strategy and partnerships for the HBCU …….