Church Solar Panels
How can your church benefit from solar power?
Picture a church. What does the roof look like? For most churches, you’d probably say it has a broad, flat, slanted expanse of rooftop. How big is it? Maybe 2-3 times the size of an average home at least, depending on the size of the church, and that’s not even considering any additional buildings the church may have- gymnasiums, family gathering facilities, etc. Now consider how much solar power could be produced by those rooftops. Many churches are starting to realize the potential for utilizing this wasted space and the impact it can have on their finances.
Even when a church is completely financially sound and stable, money is always tight and budgets are continually strained. For this reason, solar energy can be very appealing, as an immediate investment of 20 or 30 thousand dollars can pay for itself in fewer than 10 years, and ultimately greatly reduce or even eliminate electric bills for many years. And keep in mind, while you are taking on a “new bill” when committing to pay for solar panels, you are also reducing your existing electric bill- perhaps even eliminating it, depending on how big of a system you install. So yes, you might be adding a new bill of $1,000 or more dollars per month, but if you’re eliminating a $1,000 a month electric bill, it comes out even right?
It actually comes out to better than even. Because some day, maybe within a few years, your solar panels will be paid off, and your electricity bill will still be drastically reduced or non-existent. And that’s when the real benefits of having solar panels will begin to be evident.
Discounts & Incentives
Many states and even the federal government offer tax incentives for solar customers- Exemptions from state sales taxes, credits toward state and federal income taxes, etc. However, because churches are considered non-profits and are generally exempt from taxation, these incentives aren’t too helpful for churches.
Don’t despair though, because there are plenty of incentives and other helpful items out there for churches looking to go solar.
- Collective Sun- Collective Sun is a non-profit that uses a proprietary funding model to help other non-profits purchase and install solar panels at a 12-15% discount. And while 12-15% doesn’t sound significant, keep in mind if we’re talking about a $30,000 installation, you’re saving somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000. For more information, visit collectivesun.com
- State Net Metering Laws- In states with strong net metering laws, churches can benefit tremendously from earning credits toward future electric bills or even cash payments based on the amount of electricity your solar panels produce and feed back into “the grid”. Imagine going from a one thousand + dollar bill each month for electricity to actually getting a cash payment, and your budget instantly expands by leaps and bounds.
- Rebates- Many states or utilities offer rebates on your solar installation, sometimes up to as much as 30% of your total cost. So once again, using $30,000 as your example, receiving a rebate of 30% will instantly reduce your cost by $9,000.
Consider the outreach that can be generated by solar panels- Regardless of a person’s feelings on the environment, being “the church with the solar panels” could create a buzz in the community that you can’t buy with any kind of advertising.
Some congregations consider stewardship a vital part of their mission, and what better way to show your commitment to bettering the planet than green energy? Churches that switch to solar energy can reduce their carbon footprint by hundreds of tons in a single year.
Kinds of Panels
Church buildings are generally going to be substantially bigger than any residential building, meaning you can install a whole solar farm on the roof of your church. A typical home installation might produce 6 kilowatts of power, but with a roof many times bigger than that of a residential home, you can think bigger. Much bigger.
Not only can you fit many times more panels on the roof of a church, but you might consider going even bigger. Church roofs can likely support the additional weight of commercial solar panels, usually monocrystalline panels, that are bigger and heavier but also more efficient- meaning they will produce more energy other panels, like photovoltaic panels. This in turn will enable your solar panel array to produce more electricity to not only power your church but also to feed back into the grid, thereby earning you credits toward future electric bills or possibly even cash payments. Think about what you could do with the money your church would save from not paying an electric bill at all, and in fact possibly even getting paid for the electricity your panels produce.
Overall, if a church is in a financial position to make the initial investment in solar panels, the potential benefits are tremendous. With the money you’ll save from electric bills and possibly even generate from excess electricity produced, you’ll pay your panels off fairly quickly. After that, your solar panels will have paid for themselves and you will now be getting free electricity (and again, possibly even getting paid) from your panels for the rest of their lives. With this money you can commit to all sorts of endeavors. Building new church facilities, expanding community outreaches, funding more missionaries or funding your existing missionaries at higher levels- all of this and more is possible when a church embraces the possibilities of solar power.
So whatever your reasoning- be it financial, outreach or environmental- There is really no negative consequence of a church going solar if they are financially able to make the initial investment. The worst possible outcome is simply saving a little money on your electric bills for a few years. Your solar panels will 100% eventually pay for themselves, so you will get your money back out of them, and once you do you will still save money on your electric bills for the rest of the time they function. So you literally have nothing to lose from this, and everything to gain. So by all means, don’t be afraid to take the plunge.