On Sunday, August 10th California Interfaith Power & Light hosted “En esta casa…In this house…” un festival de la ecología/an ecology festival in Richmond, California. The gathering was held at Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trinidad and speakers included José Artiga of SHARE El Salvador, Kenneth Phillips of Automatic Recycling Solutions and a gripping multimedia presentation by Emily Pimentel of the Climate Reality Project, showing facts about our ominous climate situation. Participants were also informed of pending threats to AB 32, California’s landmark Climate Change Solutions Act. The afternoon included a children’s art project and playful solar piñata, symbolizing the good things that come from the sun including abundant renewable clean energy. Thank you to everyone at Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trindad especially The Reverends Javier Torres and Phyllis Manoogian, SHARE El Salvador, Automatic Recycling Solutions, Solar Richmond (who participated in our event planning session) and Vivien Castillo, CIPL’s summer intern.
Did you know…since 2002, CIPL member congregations have prevented over 116,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere? Check out our newly-released 2011-12 CIPL Emissions Report and learn more about outstanding examples of congregational energy efficiency, renewable energy, education and advocacy.
CIPL’s Annual Emissions Reports are unique – it is the only such report to quantify the emissions reductions from the California faith community. Plus, the emissions reductions are based only upon congregations that respond to our survey. So, it’s safe to say that the California faith community is responsible for a whole lot more emissions reductions and actions than is quantified in our reports. Each annual report is also important because we share it with our CIPL network, potential members, funders, and state and federal legislators. The good work of our California faith partners is spread far and wide.
Congrats to ALL CIPL members who are active in caring for God’s creation!
One more CIPL congregation is utilizing clean and renewable energy.
Here’s their story:
The Mt Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church is located in Walnut Creek, CA. It has about 415 members and an annual budget of about $650,000. In late July 2011 we realized that the Federal grant for solar power would expire at the end of the year, and if we wanted to achieve our long time goal of installing solar panels we had to move quickly.
There were several steps required: determine the size of the system, select an installer, find a source of funding, get support from the finance committee and board, and receive congregational approval.
From the preliminary proposals of several local solar installers, the task force selected three finalists. We interviewed them in person, and vetted them by inquiries to their suppliers and customers. We then selected our preferred candidate for final negotiations, based largely on their bid price. In the end, we selected SunLogic.
We found that roof mounting was cheaper, and less susceptible to vandalism and theft. Different solar panels have differing efficiencies – more expensive ones produce more power. Because we generate power during peak periods when electricity prices are high ($.30/kWh), and use power on the weekends when prices are low ($.12/kWh), we didn’t need to replace all of our current usage. Also, we were in the process of increasing the efficiency of our lighting and other uses. We don’t want to generate more electricity dollars than we use, as excess power has a very small value. We ended up putting SunPower panels on all of the sloping roofs with south and west exposure. The 37kWh system will generate about eighty percent of our consumption. The cost of the system was just over $200,000.
We scheduled a congregation meeting in November, and two open conversations to present the proposal and answer questions. Our messages were clear: The benefits of this project were that it could help us publicly live our values, and protect us from likely long-term electric rate hikes. We explained the cash-flow-neutral financing would increase our debt, but not our expenses, as the payments would be essentially the same as our utility bills.
It turned out that the biggest hurdle was to find a lender to own the system, as the church was not eligible for the grant as it is a non-profit. Many lenders were not interested in owning the system, or were unwilling to lend to a church. With the assistance of the installer we found a lender who provided cash flow neutral funding. We had to assume the risk of the grant not being received.
The financing agent, Belvedere Equipment Finance, is an intermediary, with the actual investment provided by a bank. Because the bank would receive a 30% rebate of their investment in a few months, they were willing to offer a very low interest rate. The paperwork was fairly straight-forward, but we had it reviewed by an attorney in our congregation.
At this time, the PG&E rebate on solar PV has been reinstated and we have applied, but we don’t know the amount or whether we will receive it.
The task force met almost every week for several months to develop the proposals. Others from the Board, Building Committee and Finance Committee also spent time. The system is now generating, and we can monitor it on the web. The financing commits us to a 5% per year increase in electricity cost, and this year the PG&E rate increase will only be 1.8%. We really won’t see the benefits until year thirteen when we own the system. There are real savings but they are far in the future, when the power generated is essentially free. However, the benefits to the environment start now, and represent our commitment to preserving our planet.
January 12, 2012
Our workshop on Saturday, February 11th, 2012 is now full!
If you have already registered, we look forward to seeing you! 1-4 pm at University Lutheran in Palo Alto
If someone from your congregation is already registered and you would also like to attend as a team member, please email email@example.com and you will be welcome.
Stay tuned for further Cool Congregations Workshops!
Cool Congregations workshop description:
Are you the “green sheep” in your congregation?
Do you need tools for taking the next step in leading your congregation’s response to climate change?
Join CIPL for a Cool Congregations Workshop!
The Cool Congregations Workshop will help you measure and reduce the carbon footprint of your congregation and member households. By attending, you will become a trained leader and receive a tool-kit for this unique stewardship program.
The Cool Congregations will provide what you need to make a difference in your home, congregation, and community. Research shows that small group models provide the best opportunity for real and lasting change. Faith communities have used the small group model for centuries! Find out how you can use this time-tested method to lead your congregation’s response to climate change.
Cool Congregations is organized as a set of small group gatherings facilitated by a leader trained at this February 11th workshop.
Participating households and congregations:
- Invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Save money on bills
- Prevent carbon emissions that contribute to climate change
By attending the set of small group gatherings, participants:
- Measure their carbon footprint
- Explore ways to reduce their footprint
- Make a faith-based pledge to reduce their footprint
- Meet to celebrate their successes and build community!
You will bring back to your congregation:
Cool Congregations Manual
Cool Congregations Carbon Calculator
Energy and ideas to start your own program!
Questions or for more info: Call Rachel at 415-391-4214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Like” us on Facebook – California Interfaith Power & Light Page – another way to stay in touch with exciting news from CIPL!
We’ll cross-post our newest updates from the website on our Facebook feed so you can follow us there if you are a Facebook user.