Solar project complete; Arts Center now powered by the sun!

Santa Rosa, CA (January 15, 2012) – Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Nelson Solar Projects, LLC today celebrated the completion of a 400-kilowatt system with 1,630 solar panels to provide renewable power on-site at the non-profit Arts Center. It is one of the largest solar systems to date among performing arts centers nationwide.

“We’re thrilled to be off the grid and powered by the sun,” said Rick Nowlin, the Center’s executive director. “This means saving on our energy bills and a significant reduction in the Center’s carbon footprint. In the long run, it means more resources in support of the work of our mission, such as our Music For Schools program, which provides hundreds of free instruments to students annually, Artists In Schools, which places teaching artists into classrooms and professional development courses helping teachers integrate the arts into their regular curriculum, as well as educational performances for 30,000 students each year.”

The solar project was made possible through a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which Nelson Solar Projects provided the capital financing and installation of the system. The Center will save money from day one by paying for the solar power at a rate that is slightly lower than it previously paid for electricity. It will fully own the solar system at the end of the 10-year PPA and expects to save more than $100,000 per year on energy costs beginning in 2023.

“This is an innovative solution to support a non-profit that brings so much to our community and to our quality of life in Sonoma County,” said Gary Nelson, Founder of Nelson Family of Companies and President of Nelson Solar Projects, LLC. “We’re honored to be able to provide this organization with a tangible way to reduce operating costs, while also helping to protect the environment in Sonoma County. As longtime supporters of the Arts Center, we believe strongly in the work that the Center does, especially its programs for children.” Added Nowlin, “Gary and Marcia [Nelson] have been incredible supporters of the Center for many years, and their support of this project is a very creative way to continue that support, helping us become more sustainable, both environmentally and fiscally.”

One Sun, Inc. of Graton, CA built the extensive canopy-mounted photovoltaic system, which is housed on four rows of sunshade carport structures installed in the Center’s north parking lot. The system employs solar microinverters by Enphase Energy of Petaluma and panels by Canadian Solar. It will produce 567,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and reduce the Center’s annual carbon footprint by 333 tons per year.




About Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

A community-owned 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is home to world-class performances, nationally recognized education programs, contemporary sculpture, and many popular events. The Arts Center is located in the heart of the Sonoma wine country and ranked among California’s top performing arts presenters. Together with its resident companies, the Center presents more than 100 performances in music, dance, theater, renowned speakers, and comedy; provides education programs serving 30,000 children and adults; and hosts more than 1,000 community events a year. Owned and operated by the Luther Burbank Memorial Foundation, the Center relies on charitable community donations to achieve its mission – to enrich, educate, and entertain.


About Nelson Solar Projects, LLC

Nelson Solar Projects, LLC is owned by the Marcia and Gary Nelson Family of Sonoma, CA. Gary Nelson is the founder of  the Nelson Family of Companies and Nelson Staffing. The newly formed solar development company was created as an innovative business solution to generate capital funding for the solar project at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. Company founders Gary and Marcia Nelson are recognized for their community involvement and charitable practices in Sonoma County, and specifically for their ongoing support of Luther Burbank Center for the Arts as Corporate Alliance Partners—the Center’s highest level of giving.


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