Through the work of groups like Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (H-IPL), church communities across Indiana have made the commitment to lower their carbon footprint by installing solar panels on their rooftops, installing energy efficiency technologies, and educating the masses on the importance of living harmoniously with nature. Subsequently, demand for rooftop solar has soared within the faith community.
This same trend is reflected in the massive growth seen nationally here in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. installed 7,260 MW of solar power, 16% above 2014 making it the largest annual total ever. Also, 29.4% of all new electrical generating capacity installed in the U.S. that year was from solar, second to wind but ahead of natural gas for the first time ever. Furthermore, installed capacity is projected to double in 2016. And, with the recent extension of the federal solar investment tax credit, there is nothing stopping solar PV from providing a huge percentage of our total energy capacity in years to come. Just last year, 2,099 MW of new residential solar was installed, a 66% increase from 2014 and the fourth consecutive year of more than 50% annual growth (Utility Dive: Drivers of Solar). Congregations across Indiana see this trend and recognize the benefit of solar for the health of their communities and the environment.
One such church is the First Baptist Church of Cumberland in Indianapolis, IN. The congregation at FBCC recently installed a 9 kW solar PV array and they couldn't be happier with the results. As stated by one of the ministers, Rev. Thomas Wyatt Watkins,
Our 9 kW rooftop solar array has been a tremendous boon to our Cumberland congregation. It saves us well over $1,000 each year, while curbing our carbon emissions and modeling the good sense (and cents) of renewable energy alternatives in Indiana. We have helped inspire three other east-side faith congregations to adopt solar--and counting!
So, it seems as though the stars have aligned and the time for solar installations on church rooftops is now. With a plethora of grants and tax credits available from federal and local government agencies, as well as the benefit of net metering, solar has never been more accessible. For information about how to get your congregation involved, visit H-IPL's website: http://www.hoosieripl.org/.