In 2018, Gesu Catholic School in Detroit installed a solar panel array on the roof that saves them thousands of dollars on their electric bills each year. How does an underfunded school with a 97-year old building manage to make that happen?
It started when Anita Sevier, Development Director at Gesu Catholic School in Detroit, gathered 10 elementary-school students to research solar power and enter the My Solar School Contest. Anita and the students’ story struck a chord, and by sharing their story, Gesu Detroit’s 6 acre campus is not only more sustainable to maintain cost-wise, but also for our planet.
“To get things done, talk to anyone who will listen. Tell your story.” – Anita Sevier, Development Director at Gesu Catholic School in Detroit
After raising money and awareness for solar panels, members of the Gesu Detroit Solar Club stand next to the new solar panels on the roof of the school. Courtesy of Anita Sevier/Gesu Detroit
South Side Community Coalition in Lansing celebrates switching to 100% solar energy at their "Green Energy Switch-On" event on Saturday, April 23. The solar installation was made possible through fundraising by Michigan IPL's Capital Area Chapter.
By working together, we accomplished something that benefits both our community and the earth—something we couldn’t have done as individuals or single congregations.
These days we all try to do our part to help preserve and restore our environment. We recycle paper, plastics, and cans. We put up bird houses and plant native species in our yards. But there are limits to what we can do as individuals. Sometimes it takes a team. And a dream.
April 23rd’s “Green Energy Switch-On” celebration, where we switched our energy use to 100% solar energy at the South Side Community Coalition’s community center in Lansing, is a perfect example of how teamwork can accomplish environmental and social justice goals that are otherwise beyond our reach.Read more
University Lutheran Church of East Lansing changed every light possible in the church to LED lights and didn’t break the bank to do it.
In 2017, they participated in the free Light the Way program and found some “low hanging fruit to fix up,” explains Dale Romsos, who serves as an Earth Keeping Team member and leads the Facilities Team. “By 2020, we were paying $6,000 less a year for energy, thanks to the changes we made in our church and a big part of that was thanks to utility rebates.”
"It all started with a small group of people dedicated to caring for God’s Creation.” - Judy Kindel, ULC Earth Keeping Team member
Dale Romsos and Judy Kindel are leaders in ULC's Earth Keeping Team, whose energy conservation efforts paved the way for the church to install solar!
A sustainable congregation starts with energy efficiency
This 79-page workbook provides detailed, practical advice to help congregations implement energy efficiency changes in their houses of worship and start saving money (2019).
Our FREE Energy Efficiency Programs (really)
Congregations save energy, save money, and protect Earth through free energy upgrades.
Let us be a resource in your energy saving journey! Learn about the many ways to get discounts and rebates on your energy saving projects.
- Going Solar: 10 Steps for Congregations (1 page)
- What is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)? (2 pages)
- Solar Guide for Houses of Worship: How to Use Investors (by the Genesis of Ann Arbor Green Team, 10 pages)
Solar Summit: A Webinar with Haslett Community Church (March 2020)
Solar Faithful: Using Investors and Power Purchase Agreements (May 2020)
In this webinar, houses of worship who have gone solar with investors and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Ann Arbor share about their process and experiences.
Need help with your solar project?
A message from the Solar Faithful team:
"We would like to make you an offer you can’t refuse! You can help save the planet from climate volatility!
Ann Arbor Solar Faithful will guide you (yes you, the volunteer or professional associated with any non-profit building in the U.S.) through the process of getting a solar panel installation for your building at no upfront cost to the organization (the non-profit need only pay for periodically solar electricity generated, at a lower rate than is paid to their utility). Solar Faithful is focused on reducing the carbon footprint of Houses of Worship (HoWs) and non-profit buildings.
Solar Faithful was launched in late 2017 as a partnership between Ann Arbor and Michigan Interfaith Power and Light with a small Department of Energy grant. The goal was to come up with a scalable model for solar for HoW and non-profit buildings. Several solar installations have been completed in the Ann Arbor area primarily using an ‘Investor Model’ to take advantage of the Federal Investment Tax Credit for energy efficiency improvements. Ordinarily, non-profits cannot benefit from this tax credit because they do not pay taxes. Our Investor Model overcomes this drawback.
The investor model process for getting solar is described in this guide, created by the Genesis team.
Recent solar installations Genesis of Ann Arbor and Ozone House (also Ann Arbor) were funded by altruistic investors at no cost to the non-profit organizations. This is a true win-win. The non-profit saves money on their power bills and the investors profit from their ownership of the solar panels, via periodic payments from the non-profit for the solar energy generated."
For guidance on your solar project, contact Murray Rosenthal at [email protected] .
Solar Congregations in Michigan
If your solar congregation would like to be added to this list, email Jennifer. Faith communities that have installed solar are usually pretty excited to tell others about it, so if you'd like our help reaching a solar congregation, let us know and we'll do our best to connect you.
As a part of the Solar Faithful initiative, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and the City of Ann Arbor, we have four legal templates that may be useful if your faith community endeavors to finance solar using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or investor-owned LLC. Templates include:
☼ Solar Installation Agreement
☼ Power Purchase Agreement
☼ LLC Investor Operating Agreement
Enter your contact information here to receive the links to the legal templates.