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This retired teacher started a nonprofit to help low-income families save money on energy bills: 'She had to find a way'

So far, the organization has provided help to 131 homes.

Seeds for the Sol is a nonprofit grassroots organization

Photo Credit: Julie Williams

Seeds for the Sol is a grassroots nonprofit in Corvallis, Oregon, that helps provide solar power to homeowners who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Retired high school teacher Julie Williams, who taught a course at Corvallis High School called Sustainability and Society, started the organization.

According to the company website, Seeds for the Sol works to reduce the amount of pollutants the community puts into the air. It also works to educate people about the warming of the planet as well as the positive effects that using renewable energy can have.

When creating Seeds for the Sol, Williams recognized that to truly make a difference, she had to find a way to make solar power accessible to a larger segment of the community, and the organization came up with interesting ways to raise funds.

Seeds for the Sol
Photo Credit: Julie Williams

The first option is the carbon offset program. People interested in making a donation can figure out their carbon offset, then donate an amount of money based on the results. That money goes toward the installation of solar panels or a hybrid water heater in low-income homes. 

Another option is for individuals to become what Seeds for the Sol call "Sun Buddies." A Sun Buddy provides an interest-free loan to help low-income households cover the up-front cost of installing solar energy in a home. Seeds for the Sol pays back the loan over several years.

former teacher, Seeds for the Sol
Photo Credit: Julie Williams

In addition to helping homeowners reduce their energy bills while helping the environment, Williams spearheaded a push to install solar energy at Corvallis High. The project was completed in early 2019 and is expected to save the school $21,000 in its first 10 years of implementation — racking up a total of nearly $317,000 in savings over the next 25 years.

Williams told The Cool Down that Seeds for the Sol has so far provided solar power to 135 homes, generating 500 kilowatts of power and investing over $1.35 million into renewable energy. She hopes that number will continue to grow and that the organization might be a model for local governments. 

On top of doing all it can to reduce harmful emissions going into the air in the community, Seeds for the Sol also helps out the local economy by employing local businesses and using locally made materials.

Seeds for the Sol recently launched the Shift Together campaign in an effort to help everyone in the Corvallis community shift to energy efficiency and renewable energy. That includes homeowners, businesses, renters, and landlords — regardless of income.

Former teacher , Seeds for the Sol
Photo Credit: Julie Williams

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