The Coast News Group
Brother Benno's soup kitchen now has solar panels thanks to Preserve Calavera and other local nonprofits. Photo by Samantha Nelson

Brother Benno’s, Vista Community Clinic receive new solar

OCEANSIDE — Brother Benno’s and Vista Community Clinic are now equipped with new solar panels thanks to grant funding and collaboration between several local nonprofits.

Last year, Preserve Calavera, an Oceanside-based nonprofit organization that advocates for open space preservation and environmentally sustainable practices throughout North County, received $4.4 million through for its Oceanside Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Fund at the San Diego Foundation. The nonprofit decided to first use the funding to support installing solar systems for select organizations throughout the community.

Preserve Calavera hired Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation to manage its solar initiative. After outreach to several community organizations, Preserve Calavera recommended Brother Benno’s as one of the grant recipients for new solar.

Brother Benno’s has been offering services to Oceanside’s homeless, low-income and seniors in North San Diego County with meals, clothing, hygienic items, showers, community outreach, addiction recovery and more for over 40 years.

Solar electrician Angel Sandoval carries a solar panel to be placed on the rooftop of Brother Benno’s in Oceanside. Photo by Samantha Nelson

Executive Director Paul “Mac McNamara said the Brother Benno’s team was excited and grateful to receive new solar on its rooftop.

“Aside from the obvious benefit to the climate and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Oceanside, the solar panels will reduce our utilities, thus allowing more resources to be directed to helping the homeless and working poor in the community,” McNamara said.

Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation managed a competitive bidding process for the solar projects and brought in BQuest Foundation, another philanthropic funder, to oversee executive of the solar contracts and agreements. BQuest reached out to one of its partner agencies, Vista Community Clinic, to be grant recipient of new solar as well.

Vista Community Clinic has been serving North County since 1972 by providing healthcare services to the region’s underserved communities.

“Vista Community Clinic is thrilled to add solar power to two more of our facilities,” said CEO Fernando Sañudo. “By adding solar power to these clinics, it will allow us to save money, which can be reinvested into our clinics and allow us to continue to provide valuable services to our community.”

Foreman Josh Childers and solar electrician Angel Sandoval carry a solar panel on Brother Benno’s rooftop. Photo by Samantha Nelson

Crews from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 569 signatory contractor, Aloha Solar Power, already completed the installation of solar panels on the clinic’s North Horne Street and Pier View Way campuses and are now working on installing them on Brother Benno’s rooftop as well.

“Preserve Calavera is very pleased that our precedent-setting work to require developers to mitigate GHG impacts locally is now being repeated with other projects in our region,” said Diane Nygaard, president of Preserve Calavera. “Oceanside benefits multiple ways – reduced GHG emissions, but also lower utility costs for these organizations that provide such essential community service.”

Combined, these projects will save the nonprofits an estimated $2 million during the systems’ lifetimes while reducing 2,810 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  The three systems have an average payback period of 4.3 years.

The new solar systems were secured under the favorable NEM 2.0 (net energy metering) before the rules on solar changed statewide.

According to Tara Hammond, founder and executive director of Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation, these projects are considered to be smaller solar projects that often slip through the cracks with traditional solar financing, leaving many nonprofits unable to go solar.

“We’re proud to play a role in helping provide education to the community about clean energy, how it reduces climate injustices and the impacts of the climate crisis, which often impact communities of concern first and worst,” Hammond said.

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