Solar Panels for Churches: How Congregations Benefit From Solar

Nathan Billmaier Nonprofit Solar


Solar panels make sense for synagogues, mosques and churches

Recently, EnergySage was engaged to guide the Sudbury United Methodist Church (SUMC), a Massachusetts church through the evaluation and installation of a solar photovoltaic system, also referred to as solar panels and solar power systems. While SUMC is financially sound, like most not-for-profit organizations, its resources are constrained. There is a continual need for capital, which often results in some projects being delayed or not approved because of funding. With all of these factors in mind, two church members suggested the board consider investing in a solar energy system to save money and also move towards a sustainable source of energy. Both had personal experience with solar systems. One of them, Diane Hammond, previously had worked with EnergySage on her own home’s solar installation and the second, Patrick Helsingius, is a church board member who had prior experience evaluating the same decision at another church. Intrigued by their suggestions, the board issued a soft mandate to begin the research process, assigning Patrick as the project manager to lead the effort.

Initially, the church board did not have a clear understanding of the financial benefits of a solar PV system. They also did not consider the environmental benefits to be the driving force. Some thought that a pure “environmental” motivation could be a polarizing issue within the congregation due to varying opinions regarding climate change. “Doing the right thing for the environment may not necessarily be the primary driving force, but it’s consistent with the mission of the church– being good stewards of the earth,” says the project manager. “The solar system could be a powerful statement to the community of what the church stands for and what our values are.