About 14,000 Navajo families are still living without access to electricity, in addition to constantly having to oppose coal mining on their lands. “We still feel the effects of the mining today,” said Jay Begay, Hard Rock Chapter House President, Navajo Nation.
The Hard Rock Chapter House serves as a central meeting place where the Navajo community is able to gather, and it was recently the recipient of a free solar + battery storage system thanks to a partnership between San Francisco-based non-profit Empowered by Light (EBL), Sunnova and Generac.
“With this new project, we can finally shift to renewables and show our entire community the benefit s and resilience of nature by harnessing clean energy from the sun to power our daily activities at the Chapter House, while combating climate change,” Begay stated. “Our community relies on the essential services provided at the Chapter House because we live in a very remote area. The Chapter’s goal is to continuously develop these services, and with the extra bill savings from our new solar + storage system, we aim to do just that – expand and better our resources for the people we serve.”
Through EBL, Sunnova identified this project as a key candidate for Sunnova’s adaptive solar + storage solution, with the goal of offsetting the Chapter House’s electricity bills and providing resiliency for the community. With over 270 sunny days a year, the Navajo Nation is the largest contiguous premium solar resource area in the Western United States, according to ScienceDirect.
“This project was a chance for us to help make an impact by providing clean, reliable power, while also reducing their electricity bills to help them reinvest the savings to strengthen their community,” said Kelsey Hultberg, EVP, Communications and Sustainability, Sunnova.
Sunnova worked with Fusion Power, a Sunnova Dealer, to design a Sunnova SunSafe solar + storage system to meet the needs of the community. Sunnova and Generac worked together to equip and fund the 18-kilowatt solar system and 36 kWh PWRcell energy storage system. Sunnova is providing a 25-year bumper-to-bumper Sunnova Protect service warranty for the entire system.
“In addition to having more resources for the community thanks to the utility bill savings from the Sunnova system, the Chapter House can continue serving as a great resource for the community when the grid fails,” said Moira Hanes, Executive Director and Co-Founder, EBL. “Community members can continue to gather, and also cook food, get emergency supplies, and stay warm in the winter since many homes don’t have a heat source.”
A Chapter House is similar to a town council where community members can gather for key meetings and have access to services, like distribution of hay, free trash disposal, faxing, printing, notarizing, blading unpaved roads, and more. Instead of having to drive long periods of time outside the reservation to complete daily tasks, residents are able to stay local and even save money on gas.