Installing Solar A Bright Idea

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1 Installing Solar A Bright Idea Melissa Anderson Plymouth United Church of Christ, Grand Rapids October 9, 2015

2 About Plymouth UCC

3 Prime Location for Solar

4 But First, the Roof

5 Roof/Solar Project Begins September 2013 The Trustees determine it is time to plan and prepare for replacement of the sanctuary roof. The Church Council appoints a committee of 2 trustees, 2 members of the Justice & Peace Task Force, and the pastor, ex officio, to investigate the feasibility of incorporating a solar panel array into the roof project. The purpose of the solar power installation would be both to offset electricity costs and as part of our ministry - to be a visible demonstration to the community of caring for Creation.

6 Question #1 Will It Work Here? WEST MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COUNCIL 2 referrals

7 Our Local Expert Solar Winds Power Systems Located in Shelbyville, MI Engineers, designs and installs solar electric, hot water and hot air systems In business since 2008 Over 80 installations in Michigan

8 Answer to Question #1 Will It Work Here? YES! Conclusions of the Stellar Committee s Research on Technology Our south-facing sanctuary roof is an excellent location for a solar panel array. Solar technology is well-established and this would be a straightforward project. A 10 kw array of photovoltaic panels would provide 20-25% of our annual electricity needs. It would run 45 by 12 and take up about one-eighth of the roof, starting 1 down from the peak to minimize snow build-up. The installation could be expanded in future phases, if desired. Estimated cost of the turnkey system, including labor, parts, materials, electrical hook-up, permitting, coordination with the utility company for interconnection with the grid - <$38,000.

9 Question #2 How Will We Pay For It? Any incentives or programs we could use? Consumers Energy, the local electric utility X None Solar Investment Tax Credit - 30% federal tax credit for solar systems put in place on residential or commercial properties before December 31, 2016 X Not applicable for churches How have other churches done it? We contacted churches around the country with solar installations: Multiple sources - First Congregational UCC in Bakersfield, CA Congregation raised $80,000, received $50,000 in rebates from its utility company, and borrowed $70,000 from the UCC Cornerstone Fund. Two outside parties - Edwards UCC in Framingham, MA, used SunBug Solar to install & maintain solar panels purchased by an investment company, which gets the tax credit and receives a monthly fee from the church for use of the panels. After 10 years the church can buy the panels from the investor for 20% of their original cost.

10 Question #2 How Will We Pay For It?, cont. One outside party - Secure Futures LLC in Virginia owns and operates the solar panels for First Congregational Christian UCC in Chesterfield, VA, and receives tax incentives and rebates. The church has a 20-year service agreement to host the solar array and use the generated electricity for a fixed monthly fee. Internal investors At Elon Community Church in Elon, NC, with guidance from the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy, two individuals in the church formed an LLC to buy the panels and apply the 30% tax credit and a 35% state credit to their personal income from rental properties. In 6 years the investors will have been paid back and will give the panels to the church. We talked to 3 tax attorneys and 2 CPAs about setting up a private investing entity. In the end, we decided to forego pursuit of the 30% tax credit and invite the entire congregation to participate in making the project happen.

11 Taking It To the Congregation March 2014 April -May June 1st Congregation votes to approve conducting a $150,000 capital campaign to replace and upgrade the church roof, including installation of a solar panel array. Capital campaign conducted to obtain pledges of financial support for the project, with contributions to be made over a two-year period. In-gathering of pledges. July Payment on pledges begins. $187,732 August 2015 Work begins - removal of asbestos shingles, addition of 3 of foam insulation, new asphalt shingles, and installation of the solar array.

12 August 18, Removal Old asbestos shingles are carefully stacked on the elevator and placed in the covered dumpster. A black vapor barrier is installed for moisture control.

13 September 6 Hangers

14 Problem-Solving With Engineering Engineering analysis performed to: design custom mounts of sufficient strength and; support passing inspection and getting approval by the City of Grand Rapids. Added $2,000 in engineering services and $598 for hardware to project costs.

15 September 10 Panels Installed with risers to bring the panels to 40 from the roof pitch of 67 to achieve greater energy production.

16 A Political Wrench in the Works

17 September 15 Panels Up, Scaffolding Down W SolarWorld Polycrystalline Solar Panels 40 SolarEdge Optimizers IronRidge (XRS) Racking System

18 Inverter 1 10 kw SolarEdge Inverter Extended warranty to 25 years The unglamorous but critical part of the solar power system, located in the boiler room. Converts the direct current (DC) generated by the photovoltaic panels into the alternating current (AC) electricity used by buildings.

19 Flipping the Switch! Turned on the system on September 23 rd Live remote monitoring available and on display in the church narthex

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