Eco Spectator: A Toronto for Toronto renewable energy source for all things ECO-friendly

Erin Mills United Under The Sun

Erin Mills United Under The Sun

Mümtaz Derya Tarhan
The Community Power Report
August 13, 2012

Erin Mills United Church has faith in the sun. Not only because it is the main source of energy for our earth, but also because it is a source of energy and resulting revenue for their congregation. 

The Church’s roof is home to a 10 kW solar system consisting of 52 panels. Electricity generated by these panels is sold to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) through 20-year guaranteed feed-in-tariff (microFIT) contract. 

Erin Mills United Church 
solar system installation – October 2011
This project is not a first for the Church when it comes to environmental initiatives. The congregation has an active ‘Green Team’, which has taken initiatives to improve the Church’s energy efficiency, establish and operate community gardens, and raise environmental awareness within the congregation and the community. 

The Green Team drew on inspiration during their initial phase from Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS), which is an organization that assists faith communities with their environmental initiatives. As part of their work, GSS also encourages and supports faith-based communities to generate their own renewable energy through resources, tools, education programs and showcasing best practices. 

Erin Mills United Church has made a remarkable effort to care for the earth through investments in renewable energy, a community garden, and several other greening initiatives. It was a natural progression for EMUC to join GSS and reach out to other communities to do the same”, says Christina Read from GSS. 

The Green Team’s early initiatives resulted in an even greater interest within the congregation to improve the church energy-wise. Two members of the congregation, Al Seymour and Paul Marot, floated the idea of installing solar panels to reap the benefit of the province’s feed-in-tariff program. 

Paul Marot, a power systems engineer, provided the technical requirements and education in that area, while Al Seymour used his contracting experience to provide project management oversight. Other members of the Green Team assisted with site visits, vendor selection, financing review, on-site supervision and education. 

The next step was to introduce their idea to the entire congregation and test their interest through a survey. Once the survey results were compiled, they knew the project had full congregational support. The church members’ interest, faith and commitment in the project resulted in $77,000 in donations, enough to cover the entire cost of the project. 

”The congregation recognized that this project was going to generate for our church a great amount of money, and that we were also conveying a very clear statement to the larger community about the church’s commitment to the environment”, says Al Seymour to explain the congregation’s enthusiasm around the project. 

Dedication of the EMUC Solar System with 
Ontario Minister of Government Services 
Harinder Takhar.

The Church submitted their microFIT application in February 2011, the project went online in November 2011, and the Church received their first cheque from the OPA within the next two months. Over the feed-in-tariff contract’s lifetime of 20 years, the sun is expected to generate a net benefit of $103,000 for Erin Mills United. 

Al Seymour’s  message for other faith-based groups planning to undertake similar projects: ”Prior to venturing into it, make sure that you have enough commitment from the congregation. It is also very important to talk to lending institutions prior to launching your fundraising efforts so that the project may  proceed even if enough donations are not raised.”

Ontario Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley, 
Ontario Minister of Government Services 
Harinder Takhar 
with the Erin Mills United Solar Team.

This project is significant and a great model for other faith-based groups to tap into the power of sun. It is not every day that Ontario’s Minister of Energy visits a church for their solar project!    

Mümtaz Derya Tarhan
The Community Power Report

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: