In the heavens, the Holy One has set a tent for the sun, which…like a strong man runs its course with joy.
As the realities of climate change present an ever increasing urgency to our need to act faithfully in our energy consumption, many Presbyterians are exploring ways to support, purchase, and share renewable energy resources as an alternative to fossil fuel energy. From Presbyterian congregations drawing interest from the passers-by that notice solar panels on their rooftops, to a Presbyterian teen purchasing solar panels to charge his electric lawnmower (part of his carbon-neutral lawn-care service), the time is ripe to explore the options of solar energy as part of our Christian discipleship.
Watch the webinar that showcases 5 dynamic Presbyterian congregations and the different ways they funded, promoted, and installed solar panels on their church buildings!
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- Energy Efficiency: Optimize your physical plant BEFORE considering solar. Decreasing energy demand means a smaller, less costly solar array.
- Faith: God’s covenant extends to all creation and we are called to love our neighbors and care for “the least of these.” Discuss in your church how and if solar power may be a faithful response to God’s call?
- Finances: Research options for your location, such as capital campaign/budget, state/presbytery or Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program Restoring Creation loans, leasing, crowdsourcing, renewable energy credits or other.
- Hardware: Decide size of array (kWh, number of panels, percentage of energy demand covered); aesthetics (some churches want it hidden, some want to show it off!); who will install (a contractor or church volunteers).
- Evangelism: Some churches have found that solar panels attract young adults and families to their congregation because they are a visible and intriguing witness of Christian discipleship. Visibility of ministry and increased membership may be unexpected outcomes of going solar.
Click here to read White House Actions for Renewable Energy (August 2015)
Article includes these interesting facts on solar: “Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed energy resources.”
- Calculate your household carbon footprint and learn steps to lessen the impact on this EPA web site
- Some utility companies offer free home energy audits. Contact your utility company today to see if this applies in your area.
- Visit the Energy Star for Congregations Web site and get a guide for obtaining an energy audit for your church and steps on how to make your church more energy efficient.
- Web of Creation offers many resources on faith and ecology; including “The Environmental Guide for Congregations, Their Buildings, and Grounds,” a holistic look at how congregations impact the environment with steps to reduce this impact.
- Visit the Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power and Light Web site and get a wealth of resources on energy efficiency issues.
Creation Justice Ministries has many theological and worship resources on climate and energy here.
Stories about Congregations with solar
Would you like to know more specifics about how congregations install and use solar? Download and read our brochure here.