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"Solar Moon Shot" Gives Grants for Solar Projects

It wasn’t that long ago, that solar power was a long shot; prohibitively expensive and relatively rare.  But costs have come way down. And now, even small businesses are finding ways to go solar and save money.

When Tara Hammond started in the solar industry back in 2011 there weren't many financing options available to consumers.  “Solar was primarily for wealthier people. But by 2012, 2013, a lot of different solar financing options became available.”    

She is the founder of Hammond Climate Solutions. Today, she facilitates solar projects around the country. “We are focused on stopping the climate crisis and helping advance climate justice. We do climate advocacy policy as well as project management. And one of the projects we manage is called the Solar Moonshot Program.

The Solar Moonshot Program offers grants of up to $25,000 for non-profits, to go solar and in some cases, it’s enough to cover the entire cost of a project. 


In this case, they partnered with non-profit solar advocacy groups, and that’s how a small bicycle shop in Big Stone Gap, called “Iron Works Cycling,” became the first private business there, to make the switch.


“We do sales, service, rentals, we’re, kind of a full-service bike shop. We also do kayak rentals,” says co -owner Lorenzo Rodriguez.  A company called Sigora Solar installed the grid tied the solar array last week with help from Appalachian Voices and the Southwest Virginia Solar Work Group, which are non profit organizations.

Rodriguez says, the whole process has become easier and cheaper as solar panels have gotten smaller and more efficient. “They're lighter and stronger and they last longer and produce more."  It's a totally new industry and  let's get in and do this and help Southwest Virginia.”

He says, "If nothing else, if it's just for you and it's about saving money, there's something there for you. If it's about you trying to make a difference. I think there's something there for you as well. "

 Rodgriguez is looking to do both.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.