How One Jacksonville Nonprofit Went Solar and Shifted their Energy Use into Savings
This spring Pathway Services Unlimited had a 529.9 kW solar array installed on their main office and training building, a former Kmart store in Jacksonville.
Their rooftop now hosts 1,522 solar modules installed by StraightUp Solar. The solar array is expected to produce approximately 750,000 kWh of energy to the building in the first year of operation. Pathway Services Unlimited is a local nonprofit organization that provides a range of services for adults that have developmental disabilities. The training Pathway provides can range from basic life skills to vocational training and it also operates eleven group homes for individuals that cannot live independently. Their main office and training center is now powered by the sun, providing a brighter future for everyone.
Phil Harrison has lived in and around the Jacksonville area all of his life. For the past two decades, he has worked as the Director of Maintenance and Transportation Services for Pathway. Harrison comes from a small business background and applies that knowledge in the work he does every day.
Harrison has “always liked the idea of solar. It makes sense from a dollar and cents perspective, but also helps the environment.” In 2019, Harrison had an 11.9 kW ground-mounted solar array installed for his home by StraightUp Solar, and from then on, he was sold. With solar, he saw an opportunity to free up extra cash to spend it on what matters most.
For years he searched for a way to enable Pathway Services Unlimited to go solar. Since non-profits often do not have an excess of capital for such projects and cannot take advantage of available tax incentives, they needed a creative financing option. Shannon Fulton, the Vice President of Development for StraightUp Solar had the solution – a Power Purchase Agreement. Fulton came to Jacksonville in 2019 to present financing options for commercial clients to enable them to go solar. “Finding the right financing solution is key to empowering non-profit organizations with the opportunity to go solar and save,” says Fulton.
A Power Purchase Agreement allows for the project developer, Hawk-Attollo LLC, to coordinate ownership of the solar array with New Frontier Holdings.
New Frontier Holdings, a family investment office based in Chicago, is the party who owns the system and sells the solar energy produced by the solar array to Pathway at a rate cheaper than what the local utility charges. This allows the organization’s energy costs to be locked in – in this case for 25 years – and can enable funds to be freed up for the organization’s programs.
“We are excited to support solar energy, and a mission-driven organization like Pathway, in Illinois,” says Jeremy Schupp, Managing Director at New Frontier Holdings.
Pathway is proud to bring more clean energy to the Jacksonville area. Tammy Holaway, the Finance Director of Pathway Services Unlimited notes that the “financial benefits are sound with this investment. It also is a way that we can once again lead in the Jacksonville community by getting people and businesses to start thinking about their environmental impact.”
Harrison pulls out his phone to look at his app to see how many pounds of carbon dioxide have been offset since March, which is when the project was completed. “The solar array has already offset 320,000 pounds of carbon and it has only been four months. Imagine what it will be in a year!”
Pathway Services Unlimited has always been a leader and has been looking for ways to make their community a better place. Going solar was a simple choice for them, and they hope others will follow.