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Solar Energy Vision Thrives at Pearl Buck Center After Greenpower Grant Award

June 09, 2021

In 2018, the Eugene-based nonprofit made a plan to mount solar modules on a roof overhang of their preschool facility in West Eugene. The facility supports children whose parents have cognitive challenges. The organization received a $50,000 grant from EWEB's Greenpower program, and after a $10,000 discount from Advanced Energy Systems, the Pearl Buck Center was able to cover the remaining cost to install a 24-kilovolt solar array. Using solar energy has resulted in a 9% reduction in energy costs, and three years later the savings have exceeded the organization's $15,000 investment.  

Greenpower Grants are funded through a voluntary subscription for EWEB customers who want to invest in local renewable energy projects. If you are an EWEB customer, you can assign up to 100% of your electricity use by paying a small premium on your electric bill. EWEB uses these Greenpower funds to support research, education, and projects that advance renewable energy, including our rooftop solar rebates. 

At Pearl Buck, the preschool students got to participate in the solar panel installation, complete with a ribbon-cutting celebration when the project was complete. Children continue to learn about solar energy, and the energy data from the panels is on proud display at the entrance of the main office.  

preschool students who ran through the ribbon they made

Students at the Pearl Buck Center preschool run through the ribbon at the celebration for their solar panel installation.

The clean energy vision at Pearl Buck Center doesn't end there. The success of the solar energy system has helped propel more ideas from Executive Director Margaret Theisen. She hopes to install enough panels in their parking lot area to generate a surplus of clean energy; hopefully enough energy to power the homes of the people they serve.  

"We support families who are disproportionately affected by climate change due to their income level or because they live in neighborhoods without the resources to invest in the environment. So, we see generating solar energy as another way to support their health and their ability to thrive in our community," said Theisen.  

Pearl Buck Center Executive Director

Pearl Buck Center Executive Director Margaret Theisen has high hopes for clean energy after receiving a Greenpower Grant in 2018.

Another reason Theisen feels passionate about lowering the organization's carbon footprint is the interconnective relationship we all have to the global issue of climate change. "We all breathe the same air around the world," she continued. "Suspending climate change is better for the health of all our citizens. On top of all the good it does, clean energy also ultimately means the organization is spending less money on overhead, leaving more funding for services." 

The Greenpower Grant program is open to tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and (4) nonprofit organizations, schools, and academic institutions, or government and other public agencies. Applications for the grant could include the installation of renewable energy systems, battery storage systems, research or studies centering on renewable energy, educational curriculum or workshop development, or carbon emission offsets. Other awardees include Friends of Trees, Eugene Science Center, and Buena Vista Elementary School. Applications for the 2021 Grant closed recently and we are excited to announce the winner(s) soon! 

There's still time for you to become a Greenpower subscriber and vote on your favorite project! 

For more information about Pearl Buck Center, visit pearlbuckcenter.com/