Luther Burbank Center for the Arts prepares to go green with extensive solar project

Arts Center to be 90% solar powered thanks to agreement with Nelson Solar Projects, LLC

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Nelson Solar Projects, LLC of Sonoma, CA today announced plans for a large-scale solar project on-site at the non-profit Arts Center in Santa Rosa, CA. The 400-kilowatt system with 1,630 solar panels will generate 90% of the Center’s power needs and be one of the largest renewable power systems to date among performing arts centers nationwide.

“We are proud and grateful for this agreement, which will allow Luther Burbank Center for the Arts to become a greener institution and more sustainable as a non-profit organization that serves our community,” said the Center’s Executive Director Rick Nowlin. “It will significantly cut our energy costs in the long-run and reduce our carbon footprint. We’ll be able to contribute to a cleaner environment and dedicate more resources to our mission oriented programs, such as music, dance and theater presentations; placing artists into local classrooms; and providing instruments to students through our instrument lending library.”

“We’re honored to be able to provide an organization like Luther Burbank Center for the Arts with a tangible way to reduce operating costs,” said Gary Nelson, Founder of Nelson Family of Companies and President of Nelson Solar Projects, LLC. “As longtime supporters of the Arts Center, we believe strongly in the work that the Center does, especially its programs for children. These programs ensure that the arts remain a vital part of the education and life experience of 30,000 students a year. It’s gratifying to be able to support two important causes in Sonoma County—the arts and the environment.”

The initiative is made possible through a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which Nelson Solar Projects, LLC will provide the capital financing and installation of the system. The extensive canopy-mounted photovoltaic system will be housed on four rows of sunshade carport structures to be installed in the Center’s north parking lot. The Arts Center 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 exciting example of a local business leader stepping up in a creative way to support a non-profit that brings so much to our community and to our quality of life in Sonoma County,” said Greg Steele, a member of the Center’s Honorary Board of Directors who led the initiative. “Gary and Marcia Nelson and the entire Nelson family are to be commended for their backing of this project and this great organization.”

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is now celebrating its 31st season of presenting world-class performances and events in Sonoma County. The solar initiative is the latest in a series of significant steps taken recently—and planned for the near future—towards the Center’s vision for a more modern and expansive home, which will bring greater opportunities for visual and performing arts programming, as well as enhanced services for patrons and visitors.

One Sun, Inc. of Graton, CA has been selected to build the extensive solar system, with construction oversight by VeriSol Solar Consulting  on behalf of Nelson Solar Projects, LLC.  The system will employ solar microinverters by Enphase Energy of Petaluma, CA and panels by Canadian Solar. The panels will produce 567,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and reduce the Center’s annual carbon footprint by 333 tons per year. Construction begins this week and is expected to be complete with the system in operation by January 1, 2013.

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 Project, 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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