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Massachusetts Churches Spread Benefits of Solar
A number of churches in Massachusetts have been installing solar panels on their roofs not just to lower energy costs but also to reduce their impact on the environment.
Grace Episcopal Church - Medford, Mass.
On Oct. 2, the church had a blessing ceremony for its new solar panel installation, the Medford Transcript reported. Bishop Bud Cederholm, retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, is known as the "Green Bishop" for advocating for environmental causes. He was on hand to perform the ceremony of the 25-kilowatt solar installation that is expected to reduce the church's carbon footprint by 50 percent.
Grace Church has also taken other steps to reduce its energy consumption, including installing new LED lighting and energy efficient applications, a release from the church stated.
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church - Arlington, Mass.
In September, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church became the first church in its community to take advantage of solar power. The church installed 112 solar panels on its sloping roof - an ideal spot for harnessing the sun's energy. The installation will mean the church will run almost entirely on solar-generated energy, Wicked Local Arlington reported.
"We're hoping all of Arlington will see it's a straightforward process that makes sense and is a moral thing to do," said First Parish Minister Marta Flanagan. "We want to lessen our impact on the earth, and this goes a long way in doing that."
In addition to its environmental benefits, the church will reduce its electricity costs by 40 percent, according to the source. Project leaders also preserved the historical significance of the church during the installation. The first church was built on First Parish's site in 1739, Wicked Local reported. Preserving historic structures is often a barrier to solar deployment for many churches.
The Arlington team of the nonprofit Home Energy Efficiency Team helped the church with the installation and educating church members on how to conserve energy.
"We believe that everyone should reduce energy use every year," said HEET spokesperson Audrey Schulman. "We can help lower nonprofits' bills and improve services to the community while teaching volunteers how to do the work while they do it."
South Church - Andover, Mass.
South Church in Andover also is working to educate community members on the benefits of solar power. The church installed a solar project last year, which generated 92 percent of the church's electricity, The Andover Townsman reported. The 52-kW project also saves the church about $3,000 a year on electricity costs and reduces its carbon footprint by 55 tons.
The church held an event Oct. 5 to teach others how they can benefit from solar energy. The church's "Green Team" were on hand to answer questions and offer advice on how to finance a solar project, select a solar installer and other aspects of the project, the Townsman reported.
South Church is among a group of Massachusetts churches that participated in the first Solar House of Worship Tour Oct. 5 led by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and the Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light.
The event is part of the NESEA Green Building Open House tour, now in its 14th year, MIP&L said on its website. The Green Building Open House is the largest renewable energy event in the Northeast. MIP&L said the new Solar House Worship Tour aims to educate churches in the region about the benefits of solar power.
"The one-day terrestrial tour allows visitors to engage in face-to-face discussions with property owners and learn from the knowledge and expertise they have gained from installing and living with solar technologies," the MIP&L website stated.
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