Solarize Carrollton-Carroll is donating a solar panel system to Open Hands Ministry as part of the ministry’s efforts to build a new facility on Newnan Road.

The Solarize Carrollton-Carroll coalition is comprised of nonprofits, businesses and individuals who work together to promote the use of solar energy in west Georgia. John Hinman, chair of Solarize Carrollton-Carroll’s steering committee, announced Tuesday the donation of a minimum 4 kilowatt-hour solar panel system to the ministry. This will be installed at the ministry’s new location.

“One hour of solar power offers more electricity than the entire population can use in a year,” Hinman said. “We use coal and natural gas because it’s cheap, reliable and controllable. There’s a fear of change when it comes to using solar power because we’ve always had an electric bill and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

He said Solar CrowdSource of Atlanta is handling the administration of the system and Georgia-based solar company Creative Solar is installing the panels. Through a group purchasing program, 32 residential and three commercial systems have been bought through Solar CrowdSource. By purchasing these systems in bulk, consumers can get the systems at a cheaper price, Hinman said.

“Over a million dollars is being invested in local solar systems for a total output of 370 kilowatts of electricity,” Hinman said. “This will avoid 278,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.”

A subcommittee of Creative Solar was formed, Hinman said, and a local search was conducted to find an organization to donate the system. He said a percentage of the funds generated by businesses and residences purchasing their systems will fund the panels being donated to Open Hands.

“We were impressed with the organization, and they already have the funds necessary to build the facility and hope to have it done this summer,” Hinman said. “After the building is built, we’ll put the system on the roof. It won’t completely replace outside electricity, but it will reduce their costs.”

The 1.19-acre property located at 501 Newnan Road at the corner of Bledsoe Street was recently donated to Open Hands for the construction of its new operations building.

This allows for the construction of a 5,500-square-foot facility that is five times larger than the ministry’s current location, according to its website.

Sue McGukin, executive director of Open Hands, said the organization has been in need of more space for four years.

She said because having a larger space is a “double-edged sword” with more maintenance costs, the donation of the solar panels will help reduce overhead. The organization plans to bring the design for its new facility before the city in the next few weeks.

Food and financial assistance are offered by Open Hands, as well as referrals to other agencies as needed. The ministry is a collaborative effort by member churches and the community through which services are provided to those in need in Carroll County.

“The fact that we can use this as an aid is fabulous and will give us more latitude,” McGukin said.

“We’re very excited that this will help offset those costs because 86 cents on every dollar goes back into the ministry. This is huge for us.”

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