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Your Community Land Trust – Producing Energy While Protecting the Land

13
Dec

Your Community Land Trust – Producing Energy While Protecting the Land

Part of our work as a community land trust is to help reframe the energy debate and build community energy resiliency.

Last month, we flipped the switch on our first solar energy array and as of today more than 50% of the energy we use to run Taos Land Trust is generated by our new solar panels. The 2kW photovoltaic array sitting on our downtown Taos property was installed through a generous grant from the PPC Solar Photovoltaic Donation Program. This is a huge move for us.

The choices our community makes when it comes to energy production and consumption have far-reaching impacts. On a global scale these choices impact our climate. On a local and regional level energy decisions impact the character of our economy as well as the quality of our water and air and the health of our community members.

Renewable energy is essential for meeting the power needs of the next century and reducing the damaging greenhouse gas pollution responsible for climate change. All over the country renewable energy installation and use is skyrocketing. And it isn’t just big cities. In fact, renewable energy is seeping into small-town America – towns just like ours.

Likewise, community land trusts from coast to coast are stepping up to take an active role in planning the energy future for our nation.  Taos Land Trust is no exception. We aim to further clean energy equity and build stronger, more secure communities through resilient power generation like this solar system. In the future we would like to install a larger array that will harness the energy of the sun to help power our neighbors.

Too often, energy challenges are portrayed as a choice between making a profit and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. When it comes to renewables BOTH are possible. The price of renewables in general – and solar specifically – has fallen dramatically the past three years. The cost of solar is dropping across the nation. The price of installation is within reach of millions of more people now than just a few years ago.

“In 2017, most homeowners are paying between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt to install solar, and the average gross cost of solar panels before tax credits is $16,800. Using the U.S, average for system size at 5 kW (5000 watts), solar panel cost will range from $10,045 to $13,475 (after tax credits). That’s nine percent lower than it was a year ago, and solar panel system costs are continuing to fall.”

For Taos Land Trust specifically, we will see significant cost savings on our energy use through the installation of the PPC solar array. We will be able to invest those savings directly in our mission of land and water conservation. The solar panels also helps us to be an example for our community.

It is part of our ethics. It benefits our bottom line. And it is also part of our mission. Renewables like solar and wind offer more than just cost savings and clean energy. They also increase energy resiliency by keeping critical facilities operating in times of emergency like natural disasters or regional power outages.  Unlike fossil fuel energy, renewables are less vulnerable to long-term disruption. Oil, gas and cole need to be shipped long distances making them vulnerable to disruptions that can cause outages or cost increases. Our solar panels make energy right here, on site. It is stable and reliable. And that is a strong system we can depend on. Land trusts will be key in building community resiliency through renewable energy projects such as this.

PPC Solar has helped other local non-profits “solarize” over the years. The Community Against Violence store, the Habitat for Humanity office and Not Forgotten Outreach have all benefitted from PPC’s community spirit. Contact PPC Solar if your non-profit is interested in the program.

And come see the new panel!

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