In 2012, Christ Covenant Church took a significant step of faith and installed a ground-based system of solar panels to supply the church’s electricity needs. While being environmentally sensitive to God’s creation, this also offers other financial, community, mission and vision-related benefits.
From an environmental standpoint, we will be producing “green” energy for our church, reducing our reliance on coal- or gas-generated electricity. We care about our impact on the earth’s resources! A typical 87 kW Solar Energy System such as our will offset the following over a 25 year period:
- 5,220,000 lbs of CO2 (greenhouse gas)
- 17,400 lbs of NOx (smog)
- 14,500 lbs of SO2 (acid rain)
- 8,700,000 miles driven in an average car
- It’s like planting 43.6 acres of trees!
- It will prevent over 2,610,000 lbs of coal from being burned!
Financially, we are virtually eliminating the generation portion of our electricity bill, freeing up to ~7% of our annual budget to support other needs. We are excited about what these long term savings will mean for the future mission and ministry of our church. While it will take a number of years to recover the investment that we’ve made in solar energy, Christ Covenant Church is committed to being a strong and thriving member of our community for many years to come. The financial savings that we realize will help us do more in mission and ministry, both in our local community and in the wider world through work of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Some questions and answers …
Q How does solar equipment work?
A Solar panels turn daylight and sunlight into electricity. The cells absorb the light and produce electric voltage; solar cells do not store any electricity, so all power produced is fed through an inverter to the church’s breaker panel to be used or fed out to the power grid.
Q Do solar panels require maintenance?
A The only maintenance is cleaning with a damp cloth from time to time. There are no moving parts in the system.
Q How long do solar panels last?
A Life expectancy is greater than 25 years, depending on type. All parts are designed for outside use. Over time the panels degrade slightly and produce slightly less power than when new.
Q Do solar panels still produce power on cloudy days?
A Solar panels continue to produce power, but on a reduced basis.
Q Is the electricity produced by a solar panel different from other sources?
A The current produced is DC or direct current. An Inverter changes the DC current into AC or Alternating current so we can use it to run the church & parsonage.
Q Are we still connected to traditional utility company power?
A Yes, but we use our own solar-generated power first. Then, if we need more power than we are producing at any given time, we supplement solar with PECO energy to make up the shortfall.
Q What happens if we produce excess power from time to time?
A Any excess power is fed back out on to the utility grid for others to use. A special meter keeps track of this “out bound” power. At the end of each month, PECO nets the amount of power we use from the grid, from the amount we supply to them to calculate our net bill. Any excess rolls from month to month until we need it and is never lost.
The company that installed our energy system, Solar City, provides a real-time display of our church’s electrical energy usage vs. that being created by the solar panels. Click here to see how we’re doing!