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Humphrey School students and RREAL team up for 'Solar for Humanity'

Jordan Morgan (left) and Ryan Streitz are working with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in Backus to develop ways to incorporate solar energy into Habitat for Humanity homes. Submitted photo

BACKUS—The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance is contributing to research into methods to expand solar energy arrays into Habitat for Humanity homes in the state.

Through support from the Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership, RREAL teamed up with graduate fellows Jordan Morgan and Ryan Streitz and their professor Gabriel Chan at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis.

In the state, 1 in 4 households experiences housing insecurity at some point in their lives due to unpredictable rent prices, relocation and lack of access to affordable housing, according to a news release, and Habitat for Humanity helps address housing insecurity by building affordable homes.

Even after a home is built, the costs of homeownership continue, which includes the ongoing and increasing cost of energy. RREAL worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates in several states for years to identify households that could benefit from reduced electricity bills due to a solar energy installation. Now, this research will help find ways to better expand these projects in the state through finance mechanisms, partnerships and other innovate opportunities, the release stated.

"I am eager to break ground on this project to find precedents set by other nonprofit solar organizations across the country. In doing so, I hope to provide RREAL with the tools necessary to best inform future decision makers, project managers, and installers," Streitz stated in the release.

The comprehensive research findings will be shared statewide with Habitat affiliates and other interested parties as a way to expand the work to make housing more affordable in Minnesota.

To learn more about RREAL, visit the website at www.rreal.org or call 218-587-4753.

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