In this op-ed, Rev. Richard Killmer invites United Methodists to learn about an affordable, renewable solar power option for their churches during an October 23 webinar.
REV. RICHARD KILLMER
In 2022, World Renew received a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to give 11 low-income congregations $100,000 to make their buildings more energy efficient. The grant also provided solar energy for those churches through an organization called Solar Faithful. There were 65 applications for the 11 awards.
Two United Methodist congregations in Michigan received one of those grants: Greensky Hill Indian United Methodist Church in Charlevoix and Asbury United Methodist Church in Flint. (Click here to read the MIconnect story previously published in May 2023.)
Solar Faithful, because investors fund it, is able to extend the benefits of solar energy to additional congregations throughout the state and guarantee a reduced price (at least 10%) that the congregation pays for the electricity produced. Solar Faithful installs the panels without cost and will provide any maintenance needed. The agreement with each congregation, which essentially entails a monthly lease payment, will be in effect for 25 years.
Solar Faithful will host a 30-minute webinar for United Methodist congregations in Michigan (with guests encouraged) on Monday, October 23, at 12:15 pm Eastern / 11:15 am Central. Register for the webinar by clicking here. The webinar will continue after 12:45 pm Eastern / 11:45 am Central for those who want to learn more.
Installing solar panels is a terrific way to combat climate change and reduce the air pollution that threatens everyone, not to mention helping to reduce a congregation’s energy bills. First and foremost, these emissions impact people of color and low-income communities and the people living there. Solar Faithful’s goal is that 50% of the participating organizations in this project will be congregations that are primarily people of color, low-income, and/or belong to diverse, non-Christian faith traditions.
The way it works is that congregations submit an interest form (found here) indicating their interest along with electric bills for the previous 12 months to the Solar Faithful team. The Solar Faithful team then sends a draft proposal to the congregation for review and discussion. Solar Faithful and the congregation will develop a plan together that is acceptable to both parties.
Suppose a congregation wants to reduce its monthly cost for the electricity the solar panels produce even more than the 10% guaranteed by Solar Faithful. In that case, another option is to purchase the solar panels at the beginning of the project. In doing so, the congregation takes on some risk and responsibility as it raises or borrows the money to fund the project and is responsible for operations and maintenance.
The Solar Faithful initiative enables congregations of all faiths and income levels to put solar panels on their roofs or their property and enjoy electricity produced by the sun. Doing so protects God’s creation for generations to come — an important element of faithful stewardship.
You can view a Channel 17 story in Grand Rapids on the solar panels installed at The Refuge Church. Interested congregations can learn more by completing this online interest form or writing to Steve Mulder, Solar Faithful Board Treasurer, at [email protected].
Solar Faithful is a nonprofit collaboration of World Renew, Climate Witness Project, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, and Chart House Energy.
Rev. Richard Killmer is a retired Presbyterian minister living in East Grand Rapids.
Last Updated on December 8, 2023