On Sunday, Sept. 24, the power was switched on at the solar panel installation at Trinity African Methodist Episcopal (Trinity AME) Church in Lansing. The solar panel installation at a Black church is the first in mid-Michigan and only the second to occur in the state.
Henderson Bodiford (Trinity AME, Lansing), Rob Rafson (Chart House Energy), Jennifer Young (Michigan IPL) and David Arnosti (Capital Area Chapter of Michigan IPL) initiate the solar array at the commissioning service for Trinity AME's solar panels.
Michigan IPL Program Manager, Jennifer Young was in attendance and addressed the congregation stating a hope that "this would be a catalyst to inspire other congregations because the benefits of clean energy should be available to all".
The Rev. Lila Martin asked Henderson Bodiford, a Trustee with the church, to explore how the church could go solar. Mr. Bodiford started making contacts and met Rob Rafson, a board member with Solar Faithful. Once the congregation had all the information on how the financing worked, they took a vote and began to move forward with the 26 kW solar project.
The solar installation was funded by Solar Faithful, a cooperative effort of the Climate Witness Project, World Renew, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, Charthouse Energy, among others. Solar Faithful aims to increase solar access among faith-based nonprofits with a particular focus on congregations that have been historically excluded from the clean energy transition, including those who have predominantly Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) leadership or membership, have low-income/low-wealth members, or belong to diverse faith traditions (such as those of a non-Christian, non-Unitarian faith tradition). The initiative aims to ensure that the benefits of clean energy are accessible to all.
Solar panels at Trinity AME Church, Lansing
Trinity AME Church’s participation involved receiving solar panels at no upfront cost for the panels or installation, and Solar Faithful will maintain the panels for a 25-year period. The church will pay for the installation through a lease agreement similar to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) at a price not to exceed what the power would have cost if coming from the utility.
Mr. Bodiford said that for him the project was about relieving the financial burden on the church given that the congregation will save money over the life of the solar panels; money that can go back into the church’s vital mission and ministries.
“To me this is how we are doing our small part for the planet and for future generations.” Henderson Bodiford, Trinity AME Trustee
Lansing mayor, Andy Schor was in attendance at the commissioning service and shared words of congratulation and appreciation for Pastor Martin, and Trinity AME stating that, "…Trinity AME is walking the walk of preserving God's green earth."
We celebrate the initiative and vision of Trinity AME in following through on their inspiration to go solar!