The Sun Continues to Shine on Goodwill

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Getting the Most Out of a Renewable Resource


Embedded in Goodwill’s history and culture is the belief that any resource is not to be wasted. Whether an old shirt or sunlight, we are committed to making the most of any resource available. In addition, and equally important to us, is being good trustees of the earth, and we demonstrate that stewardship daily in our donated goods efforts to make use of clothing and household goods that might otherwise be destined for a landfill. Our employees and clients interrupt that path to the dump by selling donated things in our stores and by recycling what won’t sell.

Energy is also a resource we want to maximize. Being cautious with how we use the earth’s energy resources makes sense for today and for future generations. This line of thought, and Goodwill’s culture, led us to explore and adopt the current generation of solar electrical energy as a component of our work.

In late 2011, with the assistance of a grant from the Tennessee Solar Institute, we installed a 60 kilowatt solar generating system on the roof of our Berry Road store and the salvage operation within the complex. The contractor for this installation was Energy Source Partners in Nashville. The electricity being generated offsets more than one third of our electricity purchased for that building.

We will see lower power bills through our participation in the Tennessee Valley Authority and Nashville Electric Service Generation Partners Program.  Goodwill receives a payment and a premium for each kilowatt hour of electricity generated.

Our foray into solar power took another step in early February, 2012, when we signed an agreement to install 200 kilowatt systems on the roofs at 1015 Herman Street, which is our corporate building, as well as on the 1000 Herman Street building, which houses several departments,, and several processing groups. These systems were installed in late March and are now in operation. The solar panels at 1015 Herman Street will generate 46 percent of the electricity used by the building.  Across the street, at 1000 Herman Street, that number is far greater at 78 percent. The electricity generated and the premium we are paid for that electricity will offset the cost of the systems within 10 years, generating several hundred thousand dollars of future savings over the minimum expected 25-year lives of the systems. Our partner for these systems is LightWave Solar, Inc., also a Nashville company and a leader in solar installations.

It is prudent to take advantage of the pollution-free, abundant and cost effective power of the sun. At the very least, we save the use of fossil fuels, avoid the questions of nuclear power generation and are in the forefront of this growing industry. Goodwill’s board of directors has shown good stewardship of Goodwill’s resources and the world’s resources by their forward thinking decisions to utilize solar generation as part of our overall energy usage.

We look forward to sharing how our small steps into solar power are making a difference on our bottom line.