Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

SACO — The Saco Food Pantry is turning to the sun for some energy savings.

The pantry, located at 67 Ocean Park Road, was recently fitted with solar panels by ReVision Energy through the company’s power purchase agreement. Through the agreement, ReVision Energy installs the solar panels and owns the solar panels, and the pantry purchases the panels in six to 10 years. In the interim, the pantry will pay ReVision Energy for the energy the panels produce.

Jennifer Hatch, office and shop manager for ReVision Energy, said non-profits like the food pantry can’t participate in federal tax credits for solar panels, making it longer for them to get a payback on the natural energy projects.

Through the power purchase agreement, ReVision energy purchases the solar panels for a nonprofit and owns them at least six years to receive tax credits. After the six-year period is up, ReVision energy sells the panels to the nonprofit at a reduced rate.

Hatch said the solar panels are estimated to last 40 years and will produce about half the electricity the pantry uses.

“It’s going to cut our electricity bill in half — we can put that money in food,” said Pantry operations representative Bob Nichols.

The pantry is completely volunteer run, and pantry officials say about 75-80 percent of its budget goes toward food, with the rest spent on overhead. One of the biggest expenses is electricity, and last year, the pantry paid about $6,000.

The pantry provides food for about 250-300 needy families a month, giving about 15 meals worth of food for each family member. Patrons of the pantry must be Saco residents and meet certain income guidelines.

The pantry relies solely on donations, and in order to keep its supply of food it runs eight freezers, two industrial size refrigerators, three produce coolers, a walk-in freezer and a walk-in refrigerator.

The cost of the solar panels is about $36,0000. An online fundraising page has been started to collect money for the panels at 

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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