First Unitarian’s new solar panels are about ready to start generating clean, renewable power! To celebrate, the Sustainability Ministry Team is holding a “ribbon-cutting” ceremony at 12:30 pm on Sunday, October 13, in the Atrium.
Our new system, funded in part by a grant from RENEW Wisconsin, will generate about 90,000 kilowatt-hours annually. Combined with recent and planned energy-efficiency measures, we will reduce the electricity we buy from the grid by more than half.
So please drop by after the second service on October 13 to learn more about our project and talk about next steps to build on this success and drive down climate pollution throughout the community.
Questions? Contact Eric Sundquist, Sustainability Ministry Team member, at email@example.com.
Our Solar Goals: October 2019 Update
Starting in October, we will begin generating power from a newly installed rooftop solar-electricity system! The 79-kilowatt system will supply about 90,000 kilowatt-hours annually. That equals the consumption of nine average U.S. households.
Together with planned and upcoming energy-efficiency upgrades, including operational and equipment improvements to the HVAC system in the 2008 Atrium addition, our solar panels will cut our MG&E power consumption—and associated greenhouse gas pollution—by half or more. Parishioners, visitors, and the public will be able to track its production in real time right here on our website (please check back later for more updates).
The solar project also includes new roof membranes, replacing decades-old roofs over the courtyard classrooms. Those roofs had reached the end of their useful lives and were beginning to leak.
The project was made possible with a grant from RENEW Wisconsin (www.renewwisconsin.org), as well as financing through the Legacy Solar Co-op (legacysolarcoop.org). The co-op not only raised funds through bonds to provide financing, but also leveraged savings through a tax credit and depreciation – savings that FUS, as a non-profit, could not have achieved on its own.
Many people at FUS and other organizations worked hard to make this project possible, including:
- The Sustainability Ministry Team, which researched options and organized the project.
- Executive Director Monica Nolan and former Board President Joe Kremer, who helped work through many details, large and small, along with other staff and board members.
- Co-op Managing Director Kurt Reinhold, who patiently worked with FUS on financing issues over several years.
- Burke O’Neal, owner of Full Spectrum, the firm installing our system, for implementing a creative plan that maximizes the energy we can generate in the roof space available.
- RENEW Wisconsin for providing a $20,000 grant through its Solar for Good program
- Mark Shults and Nancy Vedder-Shults, for working with the co-op to create a new taxable entity that will reduce costs to FUS.
- FUS members who bought bonds from the co-op to provide financing.
Our Sustainability Efforts Continue
The solar project, while a major step forward, does not fully meet the ministry team’s zero-carbon goal, so stay tuned for future efforts. It also represents just a small fraction of our community’s overall energy use. We hope it will inspire more widespread interest in onsite solar by FUS members and the community, as well as even simpler clean energy steps, including:
- Buying into green power programs, such as MG&E’s Shared Solar (www.mge.com/our-environment/green-power/solar-power/shared-solar-program) or Green Power Tomorrow (www.mge.com/our-environment/green-power/green-power-tomorrow), or third-party plans such as Arcadia Power (arcadiapower.com).
- Upgrading HVAC systems, appliances, lighting, and insulation to reduce energy consumption. In Wisconsin, Focus on Energy (focusonenergy.com) provides home and business site assessments as well as subsidies for such improvements.
- Reducing the use of transportation fuels by switching to low-impact modes (transit, walking, cycling, and electric vehicles), and/or reducing travel distances.
- Reducing consumption of animal-based foods, which nearly always involve high environmental impacts compared to plant-based menus.
- Pressing political and corporate leaders to take more aggressive action against greenhouse-gas pollution.