Project Open Hand Case Study

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Key Facts

Location San Francisco, CA
System Size 22 kW
Estimated Electricity Production 37,922 kWh/year
Installed August 2007
Estimated CO2 Reduction 30,527 lbs/year
Initial Rate of Return (IRR) 11%
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"At the end of the day, installing solar to reduce our operating costs will free up additional funds to allow us to provide more meals to the home-bound, critically ill population we serve."

Dan Schuman, Director of Operations
Project Open Hand

A Noble Cause, Helping the City's Most Vulnerable

For more than 20 years, San Francisco-based Project Open Hand has provided food, nourishment and emotional support to people facing life-threatening illnesses. Begun by a retired grandmother, Ruth Brinker, in response to the AIDS crisis, Project Open Hand today serves men, women and children with any acute, critical illness—HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease and many others, as well as a separate program for seniors ensuring companionship and nutrition for our community's elderly.

But with rising costs for food and care, the nonprofit was forever seeking ways to raise funds or reduce expenses to increase the number of community members it could service each day.

A Partnership to Help a Nonprofit

In September of 2007, PG&E, Project Open Hand and SolarCity celebrated the unveiling of the nonprofit's new state-of-the-art solar energy system. City officials united with community members to see the roof top solar panels and view live readings of the new system's power generation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Pacific Gas and Electric Company is proud to partner with Project Open Hand by donating solar installations that not only help reduce green house gas emissions, but more importantly, increase the number of people who can be fed each day," said Bill Morrow of PG&E, "By creating successful partnerships like the one we have today, our goal is to stimulate interest and confidence in the use of solar photovoltaic systems for a wide variety of applications."

PG&E donated $200,000 to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) and a solar thermal system for Project Open Hand, part of its $7.5 million commitment to increase solar power in San Francisco. The 22 kW, 34-panel solar system installed by SolarCity is expected to produce more than 30,000 kW hours of clean renewable energy each year without emitting any greenhouse gases.

Now Serving 6,700 Additional Home-Delivered Meals a Year

The unique project highlights the potential of solar power technology to help control operating costs for nonprofits. Project Open Hand estimates it will save over $12,000 annually in energy costs and over $600,000 over the life of the system. This savings will allow the nonprofit to serve an additional 6,700 home-delivered meals a year.

"As part of the Bay Area community, and of this planet we all share, I believe Project Open Hand has to do its part by using resources carefully and prudently, and—as much as possible—through reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources," said Tom Nolan, Executive Director of Project Open Hand. "PG&E has been a longtime supporter of Project Open Hand and we were very gratified when they selected us," Nolan added.

This solar installation showcases one approach that is available to residential and commercial property owners interested in integrating solar systems on their buildings and reducing their operating expenses.

"We are thrilled to be working with the nonprofit community," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "We all owe a great deal to the people at Project Open Hand who give of themselves every day."