Melrose’s First Congregational Church (FCC) now has the largest non-municipal solar array in the city and the largest roof-mounted church PV system in Massachusetts. The solar system was officially launched at a March 5, 2014 ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Rob Dolan.
As part of an overall energy-efficiency effort, the church recently installed 360 solar panels on its roof. The 101-kilowatt system is designed to provide 65 percent of the FCC’s electricity, resulting in more than $7,000 in savings during the first year alone. Over the expected 30-year lifetime of the system, the solar array is projected to save $270,000 in electricity costs.
The solar array is being financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA) with 621 Energy. Through this agreement, FCC is paying a guaranteed electric rate, which is lower than the standard utility charges. Thus the church is able to reap substantial energy and monetary savings without having to incur the full cost of solar installation.
“First Congregational Church in Melrose selected 621 Energy after careful review of 6 quotes... 621 Energy was responsive to the needs (and sometimes delays) of a non-profit, worked with us to get the best offer to our capital campaign committee, and once a contract was signed moved quickly through a very rainy fall to install our system. They have proven to be a true partner to our organization.” – Lori Timmerman, FCC project manager.
The FCC is also using the solar array as an educational tool, teaching members and visitors about the benefits of renewable energy. “In the main lobby, we’ve created a sustainability station that will have pamphlets and displays about the solar panels and other energy-efficiency projects undertaken by the church,” said Ms. Timmermann.
“Faith communities have a responsibility to respond to climate change,” said Rev. Dominic Taranowski, the FCC pastor. “It is important to educate ourselves and pray about this crucial problem, but ultimately it is important to do something about it! The solar array and the other sustainability improvements we have made to our facility represent our ongoing response to be active stewards of God's creation.”