160 solar panels help place of worship cut energy costs, carbon footprint

ANN ARBOR, MI – An ambitious $ 120,000 plan to install 160 solar panels became a reality for a house of worship with help from Ann Arbor’s Solar Faithful.

The Genesis of Ann Arbor, a shared space between St. Clare’s Episcopal Church and the Beth Emeth Temple at 2309 Packard Street, formed a “green team” to find ways to save energy by improving the building.

Officials met monthly to discuss how to get solar panels, said Murray Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Genesis.

“We really thought about borrowing the money,” said Rosenthal. “But the churches weren’t ready to take out a loan. They didn’t like the idea of ​​a religious institution taking out a loan. “

Rosenthal joined Ann Arbor’s Solar Faithful in 2019, a project designed to help houses of worship and nonprofits run solar. It was through this group that he heard about an investment model that might work in this situation.

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The investment model begins with attracting interested parties to buy the solar modules and establishing a limited liability company, said Rosenthal. Eighteen investors were found between the two communities, each investing $ 5,000 or more, he said.

By forming the LLC to pay for the solar panels and install them, the project qualified for a 30% federal tax credit, Rosenthal said.

The installation of the solar modules from Homeland Solar began in December 2019. 80 solar modules were installed on the flat roof of the social hall and 80 modules were installed on the south-facing gable roof above the offices, said Rosenthal. These panels can generate 64 kilowatts of electricity, he said.

DTE Energy switched the panels on in February. Genesis saved 138,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $ 700 in utility bills, Rosenthal said.

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“We’re probably in the center of the seven buildings that did this in southeast Michigan,” Rosenthal said.

Of those buildings, four were supported by Solar Faithful, Rosenthal said. One of them is Ann Arbor’s First Congregational Church, he said.

The group hopes to work with more churches and places of worship in the near future, Rosenthal said.

“We hope to include these Ann Arbor houses of worship in improving the energy footprint of their buildings,” said Rosenthal. “So that would be things like putting out LED lights, replacing stoves and rooftop devices as needed with more energy-efficient models like insulation, new windows and of course solar and even heat pumps.”

If you want to learn more about Solar Faithful, you can contact Rosenthal by email.

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