Solar Congregations and Resources

Federated Community Church in Flagstaff, AZ, has cut its power bill 96 percent with a new solar array on their historic building.

Federated Community Church in Flagstaff, AZ, has cut its power bill 96 percent with a new solar array on their historic building.

On June 21, 2014, the longest day of the year, Interfaith Power & Light will join a coalition of groups for a National Day of Action to show support for switching to clean energy, fighting climate change, and the power of bringing solar power to communities all across the country. 2014 has been a breakout year for solar. Solar equipment costs continue to come down and installations continue to grow. More solar energy generation has been installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior, and solar energy is the leading source of new electric generation capacity so far this year. The United States now has enough installed solar capacity to power more than 2.2 million homes. In many states, solar power is now competitive with other sources of energy without emitting the dangerous greenhouse gases that cause climate change. All across America there are opportunities to #PutSolarOnIt – to turn our homes, our congregations, our schools, our lands and our neighborhood rooftops into solutions to climate change.

Many of Interfaith Power & Light 40-affiliates across the country are working with congregations to encourage the adoption of solar energy:

Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light recently featured Frank Kelly, a solar energy consultant, who provided a solar presentation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. They also participate in an annual National Solar Home Tour.

Over fifty of California Interfaith Power & Light’s member congregations have installed solar. CIPL sponsors informational Webinars with solar companies experienced in working with faith communities, and offers a free guide to financing solar. Download CIPL’s Solar Resource Guide for more information.

Delaware Interfaith Power & Light is featuring four congregations that have gone solar: Limestone Presbyterian Church, New Ark United Church of Christ, Silverside Church, Camden Friends.

Georgia Interfaith Power & Light is responding to one of the biggest hurdles in installing solar – funding. That is why is it offering congregations a zero-interest revolving loan fund (up to $15,000, payback is 10 years) to help congregations #putsolaronit. Follow the link to learn more.

Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, serving MD•DC•NoVA, is committed to serving as a meeting point for congregations undertaking solar projects, and to ensure that each project benefits from the experience and lessons learned of all of those that came before. Click here for more.

Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light of Indiana  has helped six congregations go solar, and is now helping another eight. Read about Hoosier IPL’s solar leadership program.

Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light has joined forces with SolarBug to bring solar to houses of worship across the state. Click here to learn more.

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light has produced a Solar Aggregation Feasibility Study. MI IPL’s model uses “aggregation” (bulk buying) to drive down the cost of buying and installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, such as rooftop solar panels. Participating Houses of Worship also get significant cost savings through a 30% federal rebate program and by leasing-to-own the PV system. Read the study.

Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light wants to know if you’re considering solar or currently have a project in progress, because they’d like to help. If you’ve already installed solar on your facilities, MN IPL would like to learn from your example. Find out more here.

North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light recognizes the important and hopeful role solar panel installations play for communities of all faiths. NCIPL has produced a very useful Financing Solar Clearinghouse that offer many useful suggestions for congregations interested in doing a solar project.

Utah Interfaith Power & Light is pleased to introduce the Utah Interfaith Solar Champions Initiative. Utah IPL and the four solar installers who helped get solar on 10 houses of worship are teaming up to bring discounted solar to the homes of people of faith and anyone who wants to be an energy steward in Utah. Click here to learn more.

Wisconsin Interfaith Power & Light is running a series of tele-seminars on solar energy. Learn more.

In celebration of Solar Day of Action, IPL will be featuring a solar congregations photo album on its facebook page. Do you have a photo and story that you would like to share? Email it to programs@interfaithpowerandlight.org.

 

A Few of our Solar Congregations

 Temple Beth El, Stamford, CT
Largest installation of its kind on a house of worship in the United States, the new, 210 kW Photovoltaic Solar Panel System, utilizes 845 (250 watt) panels on the temple’s 30,000 square foot, white “Energy Smart Solar Ready Roof” (with three inches of insulation).  The estimated power production is 237,479 kWh per year, and supplies 70% of the synagogue’s annual electrical needs.

A Few of our Solar Congregations Christ and Trinity Lutheran Church, Sedalia, MO
Christ and Trinity has a new 12 kilowatt solar energy system, estimated to produce 15,000 kWh of solar electricity annually. The church is estimated to save $60,000 over the 25-year lifespan of the system. In terms of environmental equivalencies, offsetting 23,332 pounds of CO2 is like eliminating the emissions caused by burning 1,186 gallons of gas each year, or by the annual planting of 271 tree seedlings, grown for 10 years. A member of the community shared, “As a Christian community we are committed to serving God and serving our neighbors — near and far. Moving towards solar electricity is one way we are letting the Son shine.” The Sedalia community learned of the church’s work in caring for creation through newspaper articles and in the synod newsletter. Thanks to the story being shared, other pastors and community members have come to the church to learn how they too can go solar and let the Son shine.

Annapolis Friends Meeting, Annapolis, MD
The Friends installed two EV charging stations in their church parking lot, and wanted to power them from the sun. They began a 9kW solar project back in 2011 but they say it was “fraught with delays by Maryland Zoning that still does not recognize solar panels as a benefit in the Chesapeake Critical Areas.”  An added benefit of the solar panels, is that they now have 790 square feet of lawn that is nicely shaded from the harsh summer sun with solar panels. But, most importantly, members are now able to charge their electric vehicles on 100% renewable energy, and the system provides an excellent role model for the community of what’s possible.

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Falmouth, MA
St. Barnabas has installed a 26.4 KW solar system, comprised of 82 solar panels, that supplies approximately 42% of the electricity used by the entire St. Barnabas campus. Over the life of the system, 976,775 kWh in electricity will be saved. This represents an annual electrical cost savings of 18%. The system is leased, resulting in a project that has no upfront costs to the church and is guaranteed for 30 years and has no maintenance costs. It is anticipated that this $127,066 system will save St. Barnabas approximately $152,820 over the 30 year life of the solar panels. In addition, there will be a reduction of 411 metric tons (882,000 pounds) of CO2 over the life of the system (30 years).

Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake, MN
This congregation now has a rooftop photovoltaic electricity generating system which is reducing its carbon emissions by five metric tons per year. The solar system is providing energy savings of 18%, while producing 3,500 kWh of surplus energy per year.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
The UU Church of Bloomington now has 96 solar panels, manufactured in the Midwest. In their first seven months they provided 57% of their electricity. And we have a new light-colored, reflective metal roof that is expected to last 50 years, thanks to funds set aside from our capital campaign for building improvements, plus a recent bequest. (See photos of panels on our Fellowship Hall, of our roof & panel dedication, and of the community-wide solar celebration put on by the four Bloomington grant awardees.)    Working with five other congregations on this grant has been both informative and inspiring. We have developed close relationships with their green team members, presenting at or attending one another’s workshops and forums. We even helped one another research and implement the installation of LEDs at all four of our facilities.   Through these efforts over 1/3 of our member households reduced their household energy use by 14% or showed that they were already well below the national average. And we worked with the other congregations to develop tools based on what each of us had learned. In 2013 we presented three “Using Energy Workshops” at the Indianapolis Center for Congregations to diverse congregations from across Indiana. Ten workshops, being held in eight other cities, are scheduled from January to May 2014, with one in Bloomington in February. These workshops are designed to highlight and strengthen each of the local H-IPL affiliates.

 

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