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Local Relief Efforts Get a Boost from Solar Companies (Part 2)

Tuesday, Jun 09 2020

Volunteers ready to send social distance learning kits to Navajo students during pandemic

Volunteers ready to send social distance learning kits to Navajo students during pandemic. Photo courtesy of Laura Deardon

Solar can be a leading part of our recovery efforts, helping us create jobs, rebuild our economy and double down on our climate goals. While the economy continues to create uncertainty, it has not stopped solar companies from doing their part to help Americans on the front lines of the crisis.

Here are a few ways solar companies are continuing to support their communities.

Solar Companies Team up with Nonprofits to Help Navajo Students Affected By COVID-19

The Navajo nation is one of the most impacted COVID-19 hotspots in the United States. Nearly half of Navajo students do not have running water or electricity at home, making at-home learning extremely difficult, according to Mike Tuckfield, the principal at an elementary school in the Navajo Indian Reservation.

To provide vital aid to the affected families of the Navajo Nation, Swinerton Renewable Energy teamed up with Heart of America, Real Salt Lake Foundation, JinkoSolar and others to create a multi-phase response that supports critical learning resources for families. Volunteers teamed up to create PowerUp! Empowered Education Distance Learning Kits to assist K-12 students in continuing their education while schools are closed. These kits include books, school supplies, STEM learning kits, mini solar cars and lanterns, face masks and more. The coalition completed Phase 3 in early June and successfully distributed learning kits to more than 4,500 Navajo students, providing added stability during this crisis.

Volunteers build distance learning kits
Volunteers assemble distance learning kits for Navajo students. Photo courtesy of Laura Deardon

Swinerton’s participation was inspired by their Kayenta II 28-megawatt solar project in the Navajo Nation. After the project was completed in 2019 the company made a promise to continue long-term support for the people in this community.

"As our industry grows, so should our commitment to doing good,” said George Hershman, President of Swinerton Renewable Energy and SEIA Board Chair. “Our industry partners have shown incredible generosity in their support of this program, which will provide Navajo students with resources they need to continue learning and stay connected through this isolating time,"

The partners plan to continue their efforts by donating technology to Navajo families, including internet hotspots and home solar lighting systems.

Additional supporting partners include Construction Innovations, Blymyer Engineers, Mylo Fowler, Goal Zero, Shugar Magic Foundation, Strategic Energy Innovations, Elite Team Offices, and SunGrow.

Utah-Based Solar Company Donates $500,000 to COVID-19 Relief Efforts Across the U.S.

With hospitals across the country overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 patients, solar companies are stepping up to provide life-saving resources, even if it that hospital is on the other side of the country. Salt Lake City-based renewable producer sPower is currently building the largest solar project on the east coast, a 485-megawatt solar facility in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. In an effort to support the surrounding community and aid in the response to COVID-19, the company generously donated $200,000 to Mary Washington Hospital Foundation, a local hospital that serves five counties in the state of Virginia. sPower also worked with the Community Foundation to help essential workers continue to receive childcare during the pandemic, among other needs.

“We are proud to support the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation and the health system’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the Greater Fredericksburg region,” said Ryan Creamer, CEO of sPower. “The hospital is on the front lines of COVID-19 response and treatment and leading the way in its field hospital preparedness. Spotsylvania and the surrounding area remain important to us, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.”

The solar company continued its charity efforts across the state of Virginia, funding meals for local families and first responders in Charles City County as well as grants for small businesses and support services for the homeless in Surry County. sPower is also funding wireless hotspots in several Virgina towns where internet access is sparse.

sPower stepped up to provide aid to communities in California where it operates more than 12,000 megawatts of renewable energy in the state. They donated face masks and hand sanitizer to the Sherrif’s Boosters Open Door Drop program, a service that brings groceries and other necessary supplies to vulnerable populations during the pandemic.

Volunteers make face masks for community
Volunteer sews mask at the First Baptist Chuch Spring Grove in Surry County, Virginia. Photo courtesy of sPower.

As states begin to reopen and people go back to work, contributions like these help the people at the frontlines of the crisis begin to rebuild. Despite the toll COVID-19 is taking on the clean energy industry, solar energy can be part of the country’s economic solution.

SEIA once again thanks all the organizations that have given back to their communities during this crisis.

Has your organization made donations to help support COVID-19 relief efforts? SEIA wants to track and catalogue these stories to demonstrate to policymakers that the solar industry is part of the solution. Fill out our solar donation form now.

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