Arizona Church Wins Award For Renewable Energy
Federated Community Church wins national award for renewable energy
December 09, 2012
Solar power has slashed the cost of electricity at Federated Community Church to about $4 a month, and now the congregation has a national award to show for its energy-saving efforts, too.
The Flagstaff church is the winner of the Renewable Energy category in the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge. The competition, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, offers religious congregations an opportunity to show leadership in saving energy and responding to climate change.
Federated Community Church declared its energy independence on Jan. 20, 2012, when the congregation raised a sparkling cider toast and powered up 132 new solar panels that now produce 96 percent of the church’s power, said Mick Henry, Church Buildings and Grounds Team Leader. It was the congregation’s latest step in many efforts to save energy — and it was an easy step to take when the church board realized how it could pay for the solar energy out of its current budget.
“We realized that by installing the solar panels, we could save the church approximately $350,000 over the next 40 years,” Rachel Davis, church program director, said. “The monthly payment on a 20-year loan would be roughly equivalent to our current electric bill, but over the life of the panels, we’d keep more than two million pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.”
The church also had to be sure the project would be compatible with its century-old historic building.
Federated Community raised the $40,000 down payment from its congregants within a few months. Donors were invited to turn their sponsored panels into “time capsules” by including a personal message on aluminum tags that were attached to the back of the solar panels.
“These messages will be read many decades from now when the panels finally need to be replaced,” said Mick Henry. Donors’ names were also included on a plaque on a large slab of polished juniper in the church community hall, which also includes a digital photo display to explain the project.
The church’s electric bills have fallen from an average of $810 a month to just $45. “In fact, only about $4 of each bill is for electric generation; the rest is for fixed costs like billing and metering,” said Rachel Davis. Congregants and the community can track the solar array’s performance via a link on the church website at www.flagstafffederatedchurch.org/.
Interfaith Power & Light is working in 40 states to mobilize a religious response to global warming. See its www.coolcongregations.org website for more information.
IPL’s affiliates include Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, which helps Arizona faith communities reduce their energy use and advocate for clean energy. Learn more at www.azipl.org/.