Sustainability is often an important aspect of a faith-based community’s mission, but churches, parochial schools and other nonprofits have been left out of the solar revolution due to their inability to take advantage of federal solar tax incentives and other challenges. Places of worship was one segment highlighted in this NREL look at solar potential in low-income areas, and a new entrant in the clean energy finance space, Fellowship Energy, wants to develop solutions to address religious organizations and parochial schools specifically. Its first solar installation for a faith-based community in Richmond, Virginia, was part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Program.
The project provides St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, one of the largest Episcopal churches in the United States, with a 50-kW rooftop PV system that produces an estimated 65 MWh annually of clean energy – enough to supply 14 percent of the church’s electrical load. Fellowship Energy’s finance solution allows St. Stephen’s to go solar with no upfront cost, realize an immediate reduction in utility bills and improve cash flow while actively participating in the creation of a more sustainable future.
“Funds that are freed up from often sizeable utility bills can go to serve the community and causes that these organizations support,” notes Philip Kwait, founder and CEO of Fellowship Energy. “Making these dollars available for community service is the real benefit of Fellowship Energy’s efforts. These are the real customers we seek to serve.”
Virginia-based solar developer Performance Solar provided design and installation services for the project. Other local firms involved include Excel Electric as master electrician, responsible for permitting, installation and testing, and Advanced Engineering for structural review.
— Solar Builder magazine