Local arts nonprofit goes solar with community support

River House community members gather to cut the ribbon on the organization’s new solar system.

The River House is a community-based nonprofit arts and music venue located on the Cacapon River in the town of Capon Bridge in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands. Headquartered in a circa-1890 building that has served as a community store, agricultural machinery dealership, and funeral home, the River House hosts live musical performances, art classes, community gatherings, as well as work and gallery space for local artists. Starting in 2016, local contractors and community volunteers came together to undertake major renovations to the historic structure in order to create a home for the arts in Capon Bridge.

That spirit of community engagement and volunteerism continues today with the River House’s new solar array. Berkeley Springs-based solar installation company Mountain View Solar donated and installed an eight-panel rooftop array through the company’s community giveback program. The River House and Mountain View Solar hosted a series of informational solar open houses to encourage local residents to invest in solar. For each contract signed in connection with these events, Mountain View Solar agreed to donate one solar panel to the River House.

“We’re really thankful to those families who did help us get the panels we have now,” said Johanna Murray, River House Executive Director, “and really grateful to Mountain View Solar, who proposed the idea in the beginning and was willing to work with us and donate the panels. It will help us be more sustainable going into the future, so we can stay here for a long time and continue to offer our arts programming to the community.”

In October, the River House held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house to celebrate the installation of its solar array. “We had a really great turnout,” Murray said. “There were a lot of people who were interested in learning about [solar]…So I think it’s a really great thing, not just for the nonprofit, but to raise awareness about this form of energy and expose people to it. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

The River House intends to hold additional events to encourage local residents to go solar and thereby increase the size of its array through Mountain View Solar’s giveback program. Murray said, “We still have room on our roof, and the goal is eventually to fill our roof with panels and reduce our cost of energy even more. As part of the community giveback program, if anyone who learned about Mountain View Solar at the River House [ribbon-cutting event] decides to invest in solar, we could get another solar panel through that. So, we’ll see what happens.”

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