The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance of Backus and Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity teamed up to make clean energy and home ownership more affordable to a local Habitat for Humanity homeowner.

The latest fruit of RREAL and Habitat's budding partnership is Martin and Mary Jensen's solar array in Foley. The Jensen family has been in their Habitat for Humanity home for about 10 years. It has a south-facing roof with lots of sun exposure, which is perfect for their garden and for a solar array, a RREAL news release stated. The 3.9-kilowatt array installed by RREAL will save the Jensens more than $600 in energy bills every year and offset 2 tons of coal going into the air, lakes and land, the release stated.

"RREAL is a nonprofit whose mission is to make solar accessible to all people, which fits well with Habitat's mission to make homeownership more accessible," stated RREAL's director Jason Edens in the release. "By working together, more and more families are being empowered with solar energy savings than either could alone."

In addition to RREAL and Habitat, the University of Minnesota Extension Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership, the Clean Energy Resource Team and Werner Electric also made this project a reality. RREAL has worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the state, and plans to complete many more installations next year.

"At first, we did not want solar panels installed onto our house; we thought they would look ugly, but then we realized the economic benefit they would bring us," stated homeowner Mary Jensen in the release.

Soon after installation, these thoughts were replaced with nothing but excitement and hope for the future. "I can't wait to see what it starts producing! If Habitat and RREAL can learn from us for future projects and help another Habitat family, I will be forever grateful."

Those interested in volunteering or learning more about RREAL, visit www.rreal.org or call 218-587-4753.