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Habitat solar house under way
Volunteers participate in the the first nail ceremony Saturday for the Lingo family’s Habitat for Humanity. The home will be the first Habitat house in Georgia to use solar power. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Skies may have been dreary during the ceremony to kick off construction, but the sun will eventually help lower energy bills.

Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia held a first nail ceremony and began work Saturday on a new home for Melonie Lingo and her two teenage children, Madie, 16, and Luke, 14.

The home, which is going up off Union Hill Road in south Forsyth, will be the first Habitat house in Georgia to use solar power.

That’s thanks to a partnership with Siemens, the project’s primary sponsor.

The company, which has a division on McFarland Parkway, also in south Forsyth, plans to contribute $100,000 toward construction, as well as volunteer labor and solar microinverter technology.

Doug Keith, president of Siemens’ drive technologies, said the project is special to the company.

"We’re very pleased to sponsor this home," he said. "We’re very proud to provide the Lingo family with solar technology."

He said the technology is a "perfect fit" for residential buildings.

"[The Lingos] will be able to save hundreds of dollars each year on their power bills," he said.

The family was joined by more than 50 volunteers Saturday as they began work on the new home, which will be two stories and about 1,300 square feet.

"This is the day that the Lord had made and I will rejoice and be glad in it," said Lingo during the first nail ceremony. "We’re so thankful to our heavenly father and all the volunteers. What a journey this is going be."

Mary Lamond, Forsyth County director of Habitat, said Lingo and her children had "overcome a lot of heartache and obstacles in life."

"It’s not often that you meet someone and from the first moment know they’re something very special," Lamond said of Lingo. "She’s a very courageous and strong woman."

Lingo, who works two jobs as a school bus driver and office assistant, said she never imagined she would someday own a home with solar power.

"It should be a huge money-saver for us," she said.

Lamond called the building of the solar-powered home "an historic event."

"This is a first for Habitat in Georgia and our first time partnering with Siemens," she said.

It’s also historic for the Lingo family, who has been renting a house from a friend.

"That house is in need of a lot of upgrades," Lingo said. "The conditions aren’t ideal."

The new Lingo home is one of 15 Habitat’s North-Central Georgia chapter is planning this year.

Russ Hayes, CEO of the division, said some 222 homes have been built in Forsyth, north Fulton, Cherokee and Dawson counties since the organization was founded in 1995.

All Habitat home recipients pay for their houses through low-interest mortgages.

They also must complete at least 300 hours of "sweat equity" by working on their homes and homes for other Habitat recipients.

The Lingo home is scheduled to be finished in April.