Solar panel installation provides benefits on many fronts for Mountaineer Recovery Center

Originally published in The Journal

MARTINSBURG — A benefit on several fronts, Mountaineer Recovery Center recently announced a partnership with Mountain View Solar, of Berkeley Springs, to install solar panels at the facility.

MRC CEO Dr. Johnathan Hartiens said the project helps on several fronts, including offsetting operating costs, money that can, in turn, be placed back into patient care. MTVS also is hiring some of the facility’s residents to perform the work, helping provide a big step in the recovery process.

“Work is clearly shown — both from common sense but also from research — to be one of the best preventers of relapse, for a number of different reasons. One is work structures our day,” Hartiens said. “I get up at a certain time. I go to work at a certain time. I come home at a certain time. I go to bed at a certain time. The next day, the same thing. We are all creatures of habit. We need that structure. Work is a structure. When guys leave here and don’t have work, they don’t have structure, and that leads to boredom and idle time. There’s the old cliche that idle time is the Devil’s workshop. It’s easy for them to fall back into addiction, because they have idle time and no structure.”

Having that opportunity to work helps the clients feel better about themselves and provide a sense of accomplishment, as well, giving less space for steps backward in the recovery process.

“It’s great for people who have overcome addiction to be offered a second chance,” MTVS President Mike McKechnie said in a press release. “I’m excited to offer some of these people who are ready to get back to work some on-the-job training. I know that Mountaineer aims to prepare residents to function within society, so we’re happy to play a part in that.”

Haritens also is pleased with the environmental benefits of adding solar panels, part of his own personal convictions.

“Growing up in a Christian household, my mom always talked to me that as a good Christian, you take care of God’s earth,” Hartiens said. “This feels like that’s a part of that process, to take care of God’s creation. The other thing we were very much raised on is the importance of self-reliance.”

Twenty-five percent of the project’s cost is covered by the REAP grant from the USDA, which provides funds to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to support renewable energy sources.

The project will take place in two phases, the first of which will be completed in August, involving installation on the company’s main building. When the Women’s Center is completed, the second phase will including installing modules there.

MTVS is helping support local nonprofits by donating one solar panel to each project the business completes and completing installations for free through its Community Give Back project as solar energy continues to grow in the area.