Let my people go solar! (Action Item)


Patrick Cage

5/27/2015

West Parish Church in Andover recently hit a snag in their attempts to go solar and follow the advice of a cherished hymn to “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When National Grid, the utilities company for West Parish Church, reached their net metering cap for the state, the installation of the solar array at West Parish was put on hold.

Being able to sell power back to the grid, “net metering,” is the foundation of the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), which allow churches and many homes to affordably obtain solar panels. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has a net metering cap, a limit to the amount of power that utilities buy back from solar users. National Grid has hit their net metering cap and the public sector has run up against its solar installation limit, though Eversource Energy has considerable space remaining before reaching their limit.

While most residential solar installations are too small for net metering caps to be an issue, these limits can prove challenging for our houses of worship. Because the installation at West Parish Church is larger than 10kW, and because, like most churches, West Parish is classified as residential rate R-1, it falls under the purview of net metering limitations. For Sunbug’s PPA investors with West Parish Church, the project is no longer viable if they cannot sell power back to the grid. And so, for now, the paperwork sits completed and the project stalled, idling until the state’s net metering cap is raised or suspended.

As churches, having access to solar is particularly important as a means of living our values. This form of creative religious practice is a strikingly near-literal adoption of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount,  “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:14-15).” With the current cap on net metering, however, giving light to everyone in our houses of worship is clearly a challenge!  

The net metering cap not only make it tougher for our churches to go solar, but also limits confidence about the viability of solar expansion in our state, opposite what we want for the transition away from fossil fuels towards solar and wind.

The good news is that can we help support the renewable energy cause. Several members of West Parish Church are inviting others to voice their support for church solar power and send a message to their elected official using the form letter below. Take advantage of this opportunity to say, along the lines of another favorite church camp hymn, “let our people go solar!,” and aid in the transition to a cleaner energy future. 

For your Senator and Representative:
 
I am a member of a UCC church in Massachusetts, YOUR CHURCH HERE, writing in support of West Parish Church of Andover UCC, which is in the process of installing a photovoltaic solar array on their church building. The goals for this project are to be better stewards of our Earth by reducing our carbon footprint and to lower energy costs. West Parish Church is served under a residential rate by National Grid, and the project is on hold as National Grid has reached its legislated cap for the net metering of this type of renewable energy. Before the summer legislative recess, I urge you to sponsor or endorse and then vote in favor of legislation to suspend the net metering cap, which forestalls society’s necessary transition to renewable energy. For non-profit religious institutions, such as our churches, continued installation of solar arrays is particularly important as an expression of our faith values.

Thank you.


For Governor Charlie Baker and Matthew Beaton, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs:
 
I am a member of a UCC church in Massachusetts, YOUR CHURCH HERE, writing in support of West Parish Church of Andover UCC, which is in the process of installing a photovoltaic solar array on their church building. The goals for this project are to be better stewards of our Earth by reducing our carbon footprint and to lower energy costs. West Parish Church is served under a residential rate by National Grid, and the project is on hold as National Grid has reached its legislated cap for the net metering of this type of renewable energy. Before the summer legislative recess, I urge you to sponsor and support legislation to suspend the net metering cap, which forestalls society’s necessary transition to renewable energy. For non-profit religious institutions, such as our churches, continued installation of solar arrays is particularly important as an expression of our faith values.
 
Thank you.


Download the form letter and links to contact info for your legislators in Word doc form here.



We invite users of this website to post comments in response to posts published here. In order to maintain a respectful community, we insist that comments be polite, respectful and tolerant of opposing viewpoints. We reserve the right to remove comments that are hostile, hateful or abusive to others, or that constitute personal attacks. In the interest of transparency, we highly recommend that users comment using their full names. For those who feel a need for more anonymity, however, we will allow posts using first names and last initial.

comments powered by Disqus