The EDI Fellows heard from their first “Values” speaker on Monday, October 5th. Ruth McElroy Amundsen is a parent of two Norfolk Academy Alumni (Christopher ’15 and Patrick ’19) and led several other NA families to create an LLC with the purpose of installing solar panels on the school’s roof last year. You can learn more about that project at https://norfolkacademysolar.org/. Lately she has been spearheading solar projects for low income businesses and homes. We asked her to come talk to the EDI Fellows about her work to illustrate what “Citizenship” means.
Since the Norfolk Academy project Mrs. Amundsen has kept busy trying to find ways to install more solar in the Norfolk area. Specifically, she is looking for projects in local Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). QOZs are low-income communities where the government has declared that certain private investments can qualify for capital gains tax incentives. It was a similar tax incentive that allowed Mrs. Amundsen to bring the Norfolk Academy solar project to life and it would allow her to easily identify communities most in need.
Since the project at the school Mrs. Amundsen’s efforts have resulted in five complete solar installs on low-income businesses with three more in the pipeline. In July state laws changed that will allow her to do an install on one home and she is in the process of looking for candidates. With each install she has required that local, minority workers be trained to perform the installs. In total the panels will generate about 420 kW of power, enough to avoid 370 tons of CO2 production annually.
What makes these projects even more remarkable is that Mrs. Amundsen has done this all with her own family’s funds. She and her sons decided they wanted to use their resources to benefit the community through sustainability projects. It was not easy, they had to create three LLCs and their taxes have become borderline absurd, but they found a way to make it happen. We submit this story to the EDI Fellows as an example of exceptional citizenship.
Mrs. Amundsen provided a number of additional resources to us about this project and related projects. If you are interested here they are:
Articles and resources related to Mrs. Amundsen’s solar projects.
http://solar.the-mcelroys.com/ -Template LLC & PPA
Solar sizing on Norfolk emergency shelters
Norfolk Solar Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund
Pilot article on Norfolk Solar QOZ Fund
Virginia Beach Companion Op-Ed on Solar QOZs
VB case study on Norfolk Solar QOZ Fund
Photos of Norfolk Solar QOZ installs
Recent story on the PPA cap featuring this Fund
Article on Webinar given by Ruth
5-min video tour of McElroy’s home
Projects and organizations that do similar work
Using blockchain for rural solar
Clean Coalition Community Microgrid
Generation 180 – Solar on Schools
Links to reports on going renewable
Tidewater film by American Resilience Project