Derby Line Church opts for solar power
The congregation of Derby Line’s Unitarian Universalist Church is certainly a forward-thinking one: they are seriously studying the possibility of installing solar panels on their roof. Last Sunday, solar energy expert Dr. Ben Luce, a Physics professor at Lyndon State College and the chair of the College’s Sustainable Studies Program, visited the congregation for a second time to answer questions following the report made by the Church’s Solar Committee.
Dr. Luce, who has done extensive research into solar energy, believes that solar energy could meet the whole world’s energy needs. According to the professor, the sun produces 120 trillion watts of power while the world’s demand is 30 trillion watts. The costs of installing solar energy systems have also decreased by about 95% in the last decade. More information can be found by looking up “How to go solar in Vermont” by Dr. Ben Luce on the internet.
“Almost everyone who came to Church for the service stayed for the meeting after. The committee reported two quotes for the project and then the congregation made a unanimous decision to go forward. Now the church trustees will meet,” commented Ed Helm who is on the Church Solar Survey Committee along with Judy Nommik. The system is expected to cost between $3000 and $4000 dollars; the church’s electric energy bill, which doesn’t include the heating, is roughly $693 a year.
Following the meeting, many members went to a luncheon at the home of Stanstead East’s George Weller to hear a presentation about ‘off-grid’ solar panel systems by Dr. Luce. The system being discussed for the church is an ‘on-grid’ system that would sell excess power back to the grid.
Although there are significant subsidies in the state of Vermont for individuals who invest in solar power, being a non-profit organization, the church will have to fundraise for the money. One interesting idea they might pursue is to have ‘Memorial’ solar panels, bought for a loved one. “We would be able to monitor each panel individually, in real time, to see how much energy it is producing. That may open opportunities for us to raise funds if people want to ‘adopt’ a panel,” said Mr. Helm.
“I think we would be the first faith community in the North Country with solar panels. A bigger congregation would be able to do this much easier but we could be an example that others would follow; good examples are very important,” concluded Mr. Helm.
The church’s alternative energy committee is also thinking about installing an electric car charging station “as a special welcome for our Canadian neighbours.”
Dr. Ben Luce, seen here at a church meeting in September, is advising the church’s congregation about switching to solar energy.