Impact and Programs
RREAL is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that is integrating solar energy into the federal energy assistance program and demonstrating that solar is a fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate tool in the fight against poverty. RREAL’s service model extends beyond the U.S. borders as the organization is delivering solar micro-grids to the health care sector in the global south.
Staffed by nearly 20 dedicated and talented engineers, builders, and program staff, RREAL’s applied advocacy is changing how we use solar to serve low-income communities.
In 2018, RREAL’s Solar Assistance program commissioned about 1MW of solar energy that benefited low-income communities. Our ongoing solar partnerships with Habitat for Humanity reduce energy costs for families. Our project this year will save a veteran family approximately $600 in yearly energy bills. We also completed an 808kW solar array at Pine River-Backus School, which will produce about 80% of the school’s electricity load. Finally, we finished our third Community Solar for Community Action Project, a nationally scalable 100% low-income community solar model. The project partnered with the Southeast Vermont Community Action agency and is integrated into the Energy Assistance program. It will produce 119,500 kWh of electricity annually and will be used to reduce the energy burdens of approximately 50 low-income Vermonters.
In addition to our Solar Assistance projects, we had made an immense impact with our Education and Community Outreach program. In 2018, we logged 110 hours of solar energy education, reaching over 2,000 individuals of all ages, from school classrooms to national conferences.
As part of our international Skip the Grid efforts, we will be installing solar microgrids at Rakai Junior Academy in Uganda and Curran Hospital in Zorzor, Liberia.
For our Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) initiative, we will design, build, and commission a 200kW low-income community solar project in partnership with the White Earth Nation. As part of the installation process, RREAL will hire student interns from the White Earth Community and Tribal College to be part of the process. There will be another opportunity for solar workforce development with the White Earth Nation by working with Honor the Earth, a nonprofit in White Earth, to create a facility to make solar air heat collectors. Both opportunities will create a new solar workforce in the community.
As a continuation of our partnership with various Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the state, RREAL plans to install seven additional Habitat for Humanity projects. As part of the project, we will explore new financing mechanisms to increase the amount of these impactful projects RREAL can do each year.
Our Education and Community Outreach (ECO) program will work with rural area schools on solar curriculum planning and deployment. The Solar for Schools installations we worked on in 2018 will be finished in 2019 and be the largest school solar project in Central Minnesota. As part of this project in collaboration with teachers, students, and staff in the area, we will develop a site-based and age-appropriate solar curriculum.
Community or Constituency Served
As part of our Solar Assistance program, RREAL serves low-income families and communities throughout the united states that are struggling with energy poverty as well as the agencies that help low-income Americans. Internationally, RREAL serves low-income communities that have little to no access to electricity with an emphasis on schools and hospitals. As part of our Education and Community Outreach program, RREAL also serves educational organizations that are interested in integrating clean energy into their curriculum and educational offerings. RREAL also fosters an inclusive clean energy workforce.
Geographic Area Served
RREAL works throughout the United States to empower low-income families struggling with energy poverty. Rreal has done projects in 11 states, but our model is nationally relevant . RREAL also works in sub-Saharan Africa to provide solar microgrids to schools and hospitals in energy-poor communities.