On Hill Street in the East Bank, between Colfax and Washington, sits a one-story concrete block building: The Purple Porch Co-op. Cooperatively owned by 1000+ member owners, the Porch is a grocery, cafe, and farmers market focused on local, organic, and sustainably produced food.
During the Fall of 2017 Myles Robertson, the co-op's GM, began to pursue solar power as a lever for reducing the store's environmental footprint. To his satisfaction, over 60 member owners stepped up to fund the project and Inovateus Solar, despite typically focusing on large scale projects, stepped up to help coordinate a plan and secure the equipment.
On Saturday May 26th, less than a year since the idea's conception, installation began. 12 volunteers plus 2 professionals from Yor Solar gathered in the store's parking lot to install 42 solar panels on the roof. We captured the first two hours of this long, sweaty day:
Myles was spurred to pursue the project when Indiana legislation started to make it more difficult to profitably install solar. When a resident of Indiana generates more solar or wind power than they can use, it is sold to the utility. The legislation change revolved around lowering that rate of compensation for residents to the utility's marginal cost, plus 25%.
Though this change doesn't directly affect the Porch (they expect to use all of the generated power) Myles saw an opportunity for the co-op to be a strong voice for sustainable energy in South Bend.
15% energy // 30% food
42 solar panels on the co-op's roof will generate roughly 15% of the store's total energy usage. This is huge for a business that relies heavily on refrigeration. For context, these solar panels will generate power equal to 4 average American household's energy usage.
This 15% of 'local' energy pairs nicely with the fact that 30% of the Porch's food sales come from local producers, compared to 2% at conventional grocery stores. Mad local.
Myles expects the Purple Porch's solar system to be operational sometime in July, roughly 6 weeks after the installation. Follow them on Instagram and roll down to 123 North Hill to stay up on the moves.
Additional thanks to Document Delivery Express for getting the panels to the Porch, and Myles Robertson for coining the title: Porch Power.