Salal’s Clean Energy Initiatives and Why Giving Back to the Community Matters

4.5-minute read | Oct 18, 2023

When people work together, great things happen—and in our credit union community, we see that every day.

By Matt Vance

Credit unions are unique from banks—as a member-owned cooperative, we’re accountable to the communities we serve. At Salal Credit Union, we believe in “people helping people,” and that’s a core value that extends far beyond our banking business.

Communities are stronger and healthier when we support one another, and we’re working together to make life better for generations to come.

Our Community Giving Focus

Here at Salal, we have embraced that core value of community support throughout our history. Our charitable giving efforts are built on four pillars:

Healthcare: Salal’s origins trace back to our roots as a credit union founded by healthcare employees in 1948 (our original name was Group Health Credit Union). Supporting healthcare was our initial purpose as an organization, and healthcare initiatives continue to be a core tenet of our approach to community support.

Social Justice: We understand that bias, discrimination, and financial access are experienced unequally amongst the communities we serve. We strive to undo systemic injustice by providing access to essential services, programs, and support. From providing funding for UW Nurse Camp to developing our Salal Academy, we look for meaningful ways to expand diversity and access to opportunity. In a broader context, this pillar also aligns with addressing barriers to entry in industries like cannabis.

Housing Security: Salal is dedicated to improving housing and financial security within the communities we serve. We work with organizations such as Rebuilding Together to provide financial support and no-cost repairs to help individuals stay in their homes and prevent housing insecurity.

Clean and Renewable Energy: We’re dedicated to environmental stewardship and shifting our reliance from fossil fuels to clean energy alternatives. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we’re active in promoting clean and renewable energy initiatives, including offering low-cost financing for residential solar panel installations.

At Salal, we’re proud of our community giving pillars, which grew organically from our work with local business owners and individual members. We strive to demonstrate a thoughtful and holistic approach to giving back.

Salal and Solar: Clean Energy and Climate Initiatives

Salal Credit Union’s clean energy initiatives started with a keen focus on solar lending for homeowners, and have made significant strides over the past several years. As the affordability and accessibility of solar energy grew, we saw an opportunity to empower homeowners by providing funding to install solar panels on their homes. We recognized that solar energy wasn’t just an environmental choice, but also a financial one, and our assistance allows homeowners to transition away from fossil fuels and grid-based energy sources to a more affordable, sustainable alternative.

In addition to residential solar projects, Salal partners with dealers and installers across the country to provide financing options for homeowners looking to go solar. These loans are designed to help homeowners match their current energy costs with the expense of installing solar panels. Our approach is rooted in practicality, aiming to make the transition to clean energy both accessible and cost-effective for our members.

Renewable energy illustrationTo date, we have installed solar systems on over 20,000 homes. Based on the estimate that the average residential solar system utilizes 10,000 kilowatts of energy each year, that’s roughly 200,000,000 kilowatts of renewable energy each year, which means a lot less carbon emissions: approximately 86,000 pounds of carbon each year. To put that into perspective, that amount of carbon footprint would equate to one of the following:

  • 7 million gallons of gasoline consumed.
  • 200,000 barrels of oil consumed.
  • 19,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.
  • 96 million pounds of coal burned.

Salal has also ventured into commercial solar solutions, including exploring potential applications for the ever-growing cannabis industry. We view this as an opportunity to address two critical challenges in the sector by helping cannabis businesses reduce their energy costs and their carbon footprints. And while it’s a long-term investment, all of us at Salal believe that supporting cannabis businesses and property owners in adopting clean energy practices is an effective way to make a lasting impact.

Commitments with a Community Focus

As part of our community-focused mission, Salal has donated $125,000 to fund various projects and initiatives, including partnering with organizations like GRID Alternatives. This collaboration supports not only residential projects, but also focuses on workforce development programs. By investing in workforce development, Salal is helping bridge the gap for qualified workers in the clean-energy industry, particularly in low-income communities and among individuals seeking a fresh start.

solar panel installationIn 2022, we provided $30,000 to GRID Alternatives to train 40 people across California and Colorado in solar installation. 52% of those individuals identified as a person of color and 98% said that the training helped them get a job.

This unique approach not only fuels clean energy, but also empowers local communities by creating job opportunities and fostering a sustainable workforce.

Salal’s commitment to clean energy includes reducing reliance on gasoline. We offer discounts on green auto lending to incentivize members to make eco-conscious decisions. This includes a special discount on loans for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Salal Credit Union’s clean-energy initiatives are examples of how financial institutions can take a proactive role in environmental sustainability while at the same time giving back to the community they serve. By providing accessible financing, offering incentives for green choices, and supporting workforce development, Salal is helping to support a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Salal members enjoy higher returns on their savings, low fees, dedicated personal service, and the knowledge that their credit union has a mission to support them and their community. Contact us today to see how we can help you do the most with your money while also supporting sustainable projects and initiatives

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