Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Hillside Church, A Baptist Fellowship in Chapel Hill, NC, has upgraded their certification as a Cool Congregation to the 40% reduction level for the addition of solar on their property. They are preventing an additional 16.9 tons of carbon emissions annually.
In 2021, Hillside Church was certified as a Cool Congregation at the 10% reduction level, which they achieved by upgrading their lighting systems to more efficient lighting, installing insulation and weatherstripping.
They worked with North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, an affiliate of the national network of Interfaith Power & Light, to have an energy savings analysis done by a volunteer auditor in 2020.
This auditor was a longtime member of Hillside Church, John Roberts, who, during his engineering career, designed heating and air conditioning systems for schools and hospitals. John wanted to do something about climate change in his retirement. He now volunteers for North Carolina IPL conducting energy audits for other houses of worship. The report he wrote suggesting actions that Hillside could take to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and cut costs has inspired continued actions with even greater reductions in carbon emissions!
Their latest project was the installation of a 50-kW solar array on the roof of the Worship Center, which has cut their carbon emissions by an additional 30%.
The congregation is motivated by care for God’s creation, so although they could afford their energy bills, they wanted to reduce their bills and reduce carbon emissions. They gladly approved the solar installation, but the main challenge was the lack of resources to pay upfront for the system. Hillside decided to use a lease arrangement through the installer, Eagle Solar & Light. This allowed them to spread the cost over 25 years and immediately start saving $4800 annually in electricity costs.
At the end of the lease, the congregation will own the solar system, and the panels will continue to provide electricity for at least another 5 years at no cost to the church.
Duke Energy sweetened the deal with a rebate of $37,500 that went to Eagle Solar, who then reduced the church’s cost of the installation by that amount. Duke Energy also provides net metering such that all electricity provided to the grid is credited to the church’s account. For one year, the church has saved 59,893 kWh, which is 65% of its annual electricity use. There is a savings of 40,290 lbs of CO2, which is also 65% of the church’s electric emissions.
The installation of the solar array by Eagle Solar & Light went smoothly, and the congregation is kept updated with the progress in the church newsletter. Many of our church members are excited about the solar installation. In fact, one of the deacons, Vicki Pashion, subsequently installed a solar system at her home. The Associate Minister, Erin Stratton, has been inspired by the installation to help the church host a Creation Care seminar sponsored by Christians Caring for Creation.
The main team at the church behind the solar installation was made up of the Deacons, who include the pastor, Rob Tennant, the chairman of the Deacons, Todd Baker, and others.
Contact John Roberts at johnastro7 at gmail.com for more information.
Find the church website here: https://hillsidenc.org
Is your congregation in North Carolina? NC IPL’s Comprehensive Energy Program for Congregations – emPOWERed – is designed to help faith communities establish energy use baselines and then provide worship facility workshops to suggest possible ways congregations can save money and energy. Learn more on their website: https://ncipl.org/