As a nonprofit organization, the Sedalia Center must always be Thinking About the Future, and the solar array is the foundation of its sustainability efforts, a statement as well as a catalyst for change. The Bedford Community Health Foundation’s donation of funds for the playground and walking trail several years ago enabled the Center’s first step in thinking about the future, thinking about how to use its beautiful and spacious grounds to create space for children to run and play, the first step on that path. Through the generosity of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, the Center has been able to maintain its infrastructure and grounds, and to undertake further projects in sustainability. One project, the Pollinator Garden, will now bloom and buzz all through the summer months. Another, the Permaculture Teaching Garden, is on the drawing board and will welcome children next summer. Inspired by the original solar gift, friends of Sedalia Bill and Connie Howard donated a smaller solar array Bill built. It has transformed the equipment shed into a proper shop with light and power. Here at the Sedalia Center we continue to Think About the Future and what other sustainable projects we could do.
When the Al Stroobants Foundation awarded the Sedalia Center a grant to install a solar energy system, it gave the gift of energy independence to Sedalia, Virginia, also. The 19.2K micro-grid solar array is grid-independent, storing power through 2 Outback 48 volt battery banks with NC200 nano carbon, each 25.6kw rated. It runs the water pump, and everything in the Blue Room, office, concession stand, and rest rooms, with the exception of the electric stoves. The system enables the Center to be available as a public sheltering place and literal place of power for people in the area during periods of extended electrical grid outages. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for its foresight in providing local renewable energy to our rural neighborhood.
The solar array also cuts the Center’s electric bills deeply, allowing it to operate more efficiently and to allocate funds for more creative purposes than overhead.
The Solar Project is bigger than electricity: it is a project to spark learning about how to make our way in a changing world in which people can no longer extract and consume without thought to natural limitations. The Center invites educators, scientists, artists, and thinkers to use the facility as an educational center and forum for creative innovation. Renewable Energy is both a technology and a metaphor for learning. Originally, the Sedalia Center was the Counter Ridge School — a place of learning in a rural community. With the help of its community, the Sedalia Center intends to grow its future from those roots.
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