GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Last year, city resident Aubrey Constantineau and her two teenage children were given an immeasurable gift. Her family became the residents of 5 Hovey St. – one of three plots on the short stub road to become the site of a Habitat for Humanity home.
On Wednesday, a crew came to the home where Constantineau has lived for a year, and equipped it with another gift – one that gives back. Buffalo-based solar energy company Solar Liberty equipped the house’s roof with a full solar panel array. For Constantineau’s growing family, it comes just in time.
“This will help save money,” she said. “We have a little 7-month-old here now, and it’s just going to really help with costs.”
Solar Liberty estimates that the panels could save the family as much as $500 per year. With two teenagers and a new baby at home, it’s a huge help to the family. At the same time, when the solar panels gather light with nobody home, the house will effectively give energy back to the power company – meaning solar tax credits for the Habitat home, in time.
The panels went up on Wednesday, requiring little more than a bit of electrical work done ahead of time. The hands-on process was fast – no more than 6 hours – but the planning took time, with permitting, weather and supply chain issues stretching out the timeline from what was initially intended.
The installation marks the start of a new partnership between Solar Liberty and Habitat for Humanity. The solar company is no stranger to philanthropy, with around 150 donations to nonprofits – mostly around New York, with some in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Massachusetts. The company has also made donations in Haiti and Kenya.
“I was reaching out to a few different Habitat chapters around New York, and (Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties) was the first to reply. They’ve been awesome with it, and selected the house. I have to imagine that the house being a brand-new venture is part of what went into the decision,” said Solar Liberty marketing director Nate VerHague.
When it comes to solar, VerHague said that the North Country is mischaracterized – much like Buffalo. Some wonder if the harsh winters make maintaining panels impossible, but he says that it’s not hard to find a place with enough sun. The panels on Hovey Street face south, on open sky as the ground dips down in the direction of the Hudson River.
Both areas share something else in common: They get cold. Habitat chapter Executive Director Adam Feldman said that the donation was immediately exciting as a way to help a Habitat family handle energy bills during long winters. That’s an advantage they would like to keep.
“Going forward, we’re going to transition to 100% electric houses,” Feldman said. “If we can go into that having an energy partner like Solar Liberty, that’s a great opportunity.”
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties is currently working on housing projects on Orville Street in Glens Falls and another in downtown Saratoga Springs. The organization has also created 10 new multifamily units in cooperation with WAIT House.