Across the nation, both homeowners and business owners have been enlightened to the benefits of going solar.
With rising utility prices, those with financial savvy have seen the path to financial freedom through solar, and many have made the transition. The trend has become so ubiquitous, in fact, that even churches are jumping on the bandwagon, hence the newest movement solar: solar congregations.
Inherently, solar power seems to make perfect sense for churches for several reasons. Most churches work on a low budget, operating almost exclusively off donations, so saving money on expensive power bills is obviously a huge plus. Most churches only hold congregations during the daytime as well, so the power being produced is being used, and not being sold back the power company for credit. Also, solar is a natural resource and is therefore a religiously safe power source. No one can argue with energy that is being derived from the sun.
The only problem with churches trying to go solar is that most don’t have the money for a large upfront payment, and, like other non-profits, they are not eligible for federal solar tax incentives. That’s why many opt for a PPA, or a power purchase agreement.
Saving money on utilities frees up churches to spend money on other things. Instead of having to worry about the extra cost of A/C in the summer, churches can have longer congregations and more activities in the heat. Also, with the increased savings on utilities, the churches have money to spend on other programs and upgrades.
Solar Churches in San Diego
Churches here in San Diego have seen the light when it comes to solar, and are installing panels left and right to cut down on their energy costs. For example, the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego had Stellar Solar install a 73kW, 290 module solar system back in March 2014. Church Director Robie Evans cited financial reasons and alignment of beliefs for the installation: “Along with this being a very smart financial decision for the church, we feel that going solar is an important expression of our spiritual values which include being good stewards of the planet.”
This year, Stellar Solar installed a system on the Grace Lutheran Church in Escondido. The Grace Lutheran is a large church and Christian School that has very large facilities. Stellar utilized the large parking lots at the Grace Lutheran to install solar parking canopies that are powered by 500 Hyundai 300w panels. This 150 kW system was completed in August and is set to zero out the church’s power bill almost immediately.
So it’s clear that churches are beginning to wake up to the benefits of solar. With the benefits of decreased utility costs and independence from foreign oil, solar makes sense for churches as it eases the operating costs off the members of the congregation. For now it seems, the solar congregation is just getting started.