A side benefit is helping to save the planet
by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Last month’s webinar, “Save Money on Church Energy Bills,” hosted by Presbyterians for Earth Care, provided viewers practical steps churches have taken both to help save the planet and to whittle away at their energy bills. Watch the hour-long broadcast here.
The Rev. Bruce Gillette, moderator of Presbyterians for Earth Care, hosted the webinar, which featured three speakers:
- Sarah Paulos, community engagement and programs director for Interfaith Power & Light
- The Rev. Jerry Van Marter, Stated Clerk of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery
- The Rev. Robin Blakeman, a Presbyterian pastor with a validated ministry in environmental stewardship work in the Presbytery of West Virginia who’s executive director of Energy Efficient West Virginia and a steering committee member of Interfaith Power & Light.
Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations program is in use by more than 350 congregations across the country, Paulos said. Paulos discussed online Cool Congregations resources that churches can download to help them reduce emissions from their facilities, help members reduce emissions at home and serve as a leader in the wider community. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program estimates that if the nation’s 370,000 or so congregations each cut their energy use by 20%, churches would save nearly $630 million.
Van Marter, Mid-Kentucky Presbytery’s stated clerk for the past seven years, discussed the presbytery’s partnership with Evolve Kentucky, a group of electric vehicles owners and enthusiasts, to help install electric car charging stations at nine churches across the presbytery, most in Louisville.
The presbytery created a $96,000 legacy fund from a church closure to award some of its 46 churches grants of up to $9,000 to have charging stations on their property. The stations are installed and maintained by Evolve Kentucky.
Van Marter described the impact on two churches in Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church has a parking lot that fronts one of Louisville’s busiest streets and has “a constant stream of vehicles pulling in to charge their vehicles,” Van Marter said. Highland Presbyterian Church shares a parking lot with a social services agency and three large apartment complexes.
The presbytery’s partnership with Evolve Kentucky requires that congregations that install a charging station make the rapid-charging stations fully available to the public at no charge, Van Marter said. Churches pay the increase in their electric bill, which have gone up on average $120 annually as a result of church and public use of the charging station, he said.
Blakeman touched on West Virginia churches that elected for installations of solar panels, including Spencer Presbyterian Church, a small rural church and the second PC(USA) church in West Virginia to go solar. “My key message tonight is, if it can be done there, it can be done anywhere,” Blakeman said of the church, which has about a dozen active members and houses the only daycare center in Roane County, the home to about 14,000 West Virginians. “It was a very admirable decision.”
Another church in a rural community, Glenville Presbyterian Church, was the third PC(USA) church in West Virginia to opt for solar energy. Glenville Presbyterian Church consulted with Spencer Presbyterian Church over the Spencer church’s experience installing solar panels, Blakeman said.
Along with Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, the first PC(USA) church in West Virginia to go solar, all partnered with Solar Holler, which works with Coalfield Development to help retrain people who used to work in the coal industry to install solar panels. Blakeman called the partnerships “part of the energy transformation we are working toward in this state and in this region.”
Learn more about upcoming webinars sponsored by Presbyterians for Earth Care or watch recordings of past webinars by going here.
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Tags: bardstown road presbyterian church, church energy bills, coalfield development, cool congregations, electric vehicle charging stations, energy efficient west virginia, energy star, evolve kentucky, glenville presbyterian church, Highland Presbyterian church, interfaith power & light, Mid Kentucky Presbytery, Presbyterians for Earth Care, presbytery of west virginia, rev. bruce gillette, rev. jerry van marter, rev. robin blakeman, sarah paulos, Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, solar holler, spencer presbyterian church
Ministries: Environmental Issues