CODEN, Ala.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Elon Musk and SolarCity® have collaborated to donate a solar power system to the South Bay Communities Alliance’s (SBCA) Hurricane Response Center in the Gulf Coast community of Coden, Ala. The solar panel arrays will be attached to a battery back-up system that will allow the center to produce its own power in the event of an outage. Elon Musk, through the Musk Foundation, provided the funds to SBCA for the project, which SolarCity built at its cost.
“We hope that this project can serve as a small example of how renewable power can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lead us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, community leaders from the villages surrounding Coden collaborated to form the South Bay Communities Alliance (SBCA), an organization dedicated to serving the needs of the communities’ residents. Many families in the Coden area lacked access to power in Katrina’s aftermath, and had nowhere to go to get food, clothing, water or protection from the heat. Vowing to never be in that circumstance again, the SBCA created a new Coastal Response Center in 2006.
“Like my father and grandfathers before me, and thousands in Alabama’s bayou communities, I have been a ‘farmer of the sea’ for most of my 60 years,” said Paul Nelson, the SBCA’s executive director. “My 300-year-old multicultural community is an integral part of the Gulf Coast’s seafood and tourist industries. Because our living and culture depends on coastal waters and estuaries, we have been its natural stewards for generations. Our community’s survival therefore is tied to both the economic and spiritual health of the entire Gulf Coast, indeed of the entire country. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Elon Musk and SolarCity for their wonderful holiday season gift to the Coden, Alabama community; and to thank President Obama’s administration for recommending our feisty and tenacious grass roots group—South Bay Communities Alliance—as a worthy recipient of this project.”
The Coden area is still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina five years later. More than 300 families were still suffering from serious damage, including 100 who lost their entire homes, when the recent gulf oil spill devastated its commercial fishing industry again and put many area residents out of work earlier this year. The Coastal Response Center has become a center for the community; hosting events, church services and other gatherings. The SBCA also expects the Center to serve as a shelter for residents and aid organizations should another hurricane strike. SBCA leaders, many of whom have been forced to survive on incomes below the poverty line since the oil spill, often pay the center’s operating expenses out of their own pockets. The donated solar system will save the Center thousands of dollars in annual energy costs.
“This summer’s gulf spill was a stark reminder of the difficulty we face in reconciling the energy needs of the population with the need to protect the planet’s vital ecosystems,” said Elon Musk. “For the people on the front lines, like the families of Coden and others along the gulf coast, these difficulties remain long after news of the disasters fade from the headlines. I believe that we can make the change necessary to greatly reduce our dependence on the finite power sources that pollute our air and water and complicate our geopolitics, even if that change happens one rooftop at a time.”
The 25-kilowatt solar power system is one of the largest in the state of Alabama. The solar arrays consist of 108 solar panels manufactured in Tennessee, and was installed by a team of SolarCity workers and area residents in November and December. The solar power system will produce an estimated 33,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which should offset between 90 and 100 percent of the Center’s electricity use.
“We reached out to the White House to see if there was a way to help area residents affected by the oil spill by donating a solar power system, and the White House suggested the SBCA and Coastal Response Center as a possible recipient,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “We hope that this project can serve as a small example of how renewable power can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lead us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
SolarCity®—a national leader in solar power system and energy efficiency design, financing, installation, monitoring and related services—was founded with the mission to help millions of homeowners and businesses adopt clean power, protect themselves from rising gas and electricity costs and protect their environment from polluting power sources. The company’s SolarLease® and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) options can make it possible for homeowners and businesses to switch to clean, solar power for less money than they currently pay for electricity. SolarCity currently serves more than 1,000 communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Texas. Additional information about the company is available on the Web at www.solarcity.com.