Saving Energy, Saving Animals, Saving Grace
By Melanie MacKinnon
On any given day, the Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center has roughly 125 cats and 50 dogs. But on one special day, Saving Grace welcomed visitors with a particular purpose in mind. Approximately 40 people came to celebrate the newly installed 43-kilowatt solar electric array. Cutting the ribbon to mark the moment were representatives from Pacific Power, whose Blue Sky program funding made the project possible.
Wendy Kang, executive director of Saving Grace, told the crowd what the solar array will mean for the animals: “The solar array is estimated to provide 45 percent of our electric bill and save us $5,000 per year — money which will be put directly into benefiting the animals. This is the equivalent of spaying or neutering 100 cats a year.” Recognizing that doing so will lessen future cat populations, she quipped “I know that spaying and neutering 100 cats each year will prevent considerable more births. Just don’t ask me to do the math.”
For Wendy, who has been executive director for nine years, this project represents a perfect blend of her commitment to animals and renewable energy. But it wasn’t a simple path to get there. Initially, a board member met with Pacific Power, resulting in an application for funding to their Blue Sky renewable energy program. The first request wasn’t awarded, but it laid the foundation for a second try. With the assistance of an analysis by Newcastle Solar of Roseburg and help from Douglas Count Smart Energy, the second application proved successful. Now, by generating some of its own energy, the center is able to reduce its operating cost. Saving Grace’s savings will flow directly to the animals.
Saving Grace is committed to publicizing the project so the residents of Douglas County are aware of how beneficial it is to the organization and the community. “It is consistent with our mission to protect animals,” Wendy pointed out, “and to utilize dollars in the most efficient way possible. This solar array is an example of maximizing the use of our finances.”
One way the center will spread the word about its solar project is through its annual Critter Camp, a week-long gathering of grade-school children where they learn about responsible pet care and career opportunities related to companion animal care. Now, thanks to the solar array, they will learn how animals fit into the greater environment.
“Children are very open to learning in areas they care about and are motivated to change things,” she noted. “As adults, they can be voices for signing up for renewable energy.”
Publicizing the solar array will be a year-round endeavor. A brochure outlining what the solar energy system produces is available when entering the building. Greater detail is shown on a wall display showing current and previous solar electricity production as well as carbon dioxide emission savings. This information will also be available on their website.
The Blue Sky program, which funded the project, receives its money from Pacific Power customers who voluntarily pay a little more each month on their electric bill to support renewable energy. Thus far, 1,100 Roseburg customers have chosen to do so.
The Saving Grace solar electric project is a great example of Blue Sky dollars at work in our community.