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W.Va. Habitat for Humanity home will be powered by sun and generosity

November 25, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Explaining the solar panels on the roof of their new home to the Carr family are, from left, Colin Williams, vice president of Mountain View Solar in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., the company that installed the panels, and Wendell Carr, his daughter, Cierra Carr, 14, and wife, Tara Carr.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Thanks to the generosity of an Oregon manufacturing firm and a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., company, energy from the sun will help to heat and light a new home being built for a local family by Habitat for Humanity.

The home, under construction on Humanitarian Way in Martinsburg’s Auburndale subdivison, is being built for Wendell and Tara Carr and their children, Cierra, 14, Devon, 11, and Serenity, 4. 

The family is currently renting an apartment in the Inwood, W.Va., area, said Brenda Berry, operations director of Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle at 630 W. Race St.

The house will be finished and the family moved in by Christmas, Berry said. “It will be home for the holidays,” she said.

The idea to put solar panels on the roof came from Colin Williams, vice president of Mountain View Solar in Berkeley Springs. The program will expand to nine more Habitat-built homes in West Virginia. Solar World, a German-owned company in Oregon, will manufacture and donate the panels, he said.

Williams’ company installed the panels on the Martinsburg house and will install them on the other nine Habitat homes in the Mountain State.

“I believe in Habitat’s mission,” he said.

Buying and installing the 10 panels on the Carr’s home would normally cost about $12,500, Williams said. The family will save 30 percent to 40 percent on their annual electric bill.

Williams pointed to the electric meter on the home. “Right now, since the house is empty, the meter is spinning backwards, sending power back to the grid,” he said.

“Habitat for Humanity makes affordable homes and solar panels make the homes more affordable,” he said.

His company installed the solar panels on the new Morgan County Courthouse and the more than 1,600 on American Public University’s new Finance Center building in Charles Town, W.Va. Williams said the APU array is the largest in West Virginia.

Berry said Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle bought six acres for its planned 32-unit Auburndale subdivision. Nine lots are construction ready, she said. The Carr’s is the second home in the development.

Habitat for Humanity opened in West Virginia 25 years ago, Berry said.

The Eastern Panhandle chapter was chartered in 1992. Since then, more than 30 homes have been built, mostly in Berkeley County.

The agency operates with three part-time employees, including Berry. It depends on volunteers, donations, grants and profits from the Restore which accepts and sells donations of used building materials.

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