Churches in the United States are non-profit. Therefore, they aren’t eligible for investment tax credits (no federal funding is available to them), and this complicates the process of funding solar panels on their properties. So, some California churches have decided to use an unusual approach, crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding Solar for Churches
Crowdfunding in this case is the acquisition of small contributions from members of the congregation to the pool of money which will be used to purchase the solar system.
Electricity costs impact churches considerably in a recession environment in which donations have declined. “Going solar” is one way to help guard against further and future economic recession, because it is, technically, the purchase of 30 years of electricity in advance, and at a fixed price.
If it is a grid-tie net-metering setup, then as utility electricity prices increase, the churches’ incomes from net-metering increase, and the financial payback time of their panels is decreased.
Churches that Installed Solar Systems
NorthCreek Church in Walnut Creek, California
This is a 305 kW DC system that consists of 1,092 Suntech 280 solar panels. The estimated CO2 reduction is 573,406 pounds. The estimated annual electricity production of this system is 377,189 kWh.
This installation offset 99% of the church’s energy costs with a zero-money-down lease.
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is located in a remote location in the Carmel Valley inland from Big Sur.
“This is the oldest Zen training center outside of Asia, and closely allied with the San Francisco Zen Center. Its remote location definitely has its advantages. Away from the “busyness of civilization”, Tassajara is known for the peace and quiet to find extreme inner peace, surrounded by only the sounds of nature where you can study, practice or train in Zen Buddhism.
“Way back in the coastal California mountains, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center set out to install a photovoltaic solar system. Their ground-mounted, off-grid, battery-based system has been built in two phases approximately 4 years apart. The first phase of approximately 9 kW DC covered basic needs, but as the Center grew, they required the use of a generator more often than they desired. In order to come closer to net zero in terms of supply, the Center contacted Sun Light & Power to design and commission Phase 2 – another 12 kW DC (bringing the total to approximately 21 kW DC) – to almost completely eliminate the need for their back-up generator.”
Additional Solar Churches & Houses of Worship
These houses of worship have new solar installations pending.
St. Stephens Church, Orinda.
Zen Center, San Francisco
Christ the King Lutheran Church, Fremont, CA
First Chinese Baptist Church, San Francisco
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Oakland
Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, Richmond
Source: Sun Light and Power (via email)