Prominent Virginia Episcopal Parish Installs Rooftop Solar

Stephens Summer

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a prominent parish in Richmond, VA, has just installed a a 50 kW rooftop solar system — enough to supply 14% of the church’s energy. This is the first installation done by Fellowship Energy LLC, which calls itself “a new clean energy finance company developing solutions for religious organizations and parochial schools” as “part of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Program.”

According to Fellowship Energy’s press release, “Until now, churches, parochial schools and other nonprofits have been left out of the solar revolution due to their inability to take advantage of federal solar tax incentives and other challenges. Through Fellowship Energy, these communities can enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA), which guarantees a lower price for solar-generated electricity than the local utility.”

More and more parishes across the country are switching to clean energy. What that looks like can vary by state, because different regions have different programs to help make solar panels affordable. And even in locations that might be too shady for solar, churches and other energy users can often contact their utility company and ask to switch their energy provider (as opposed to their distributor) to a cleaner source. What has your parish done to switch to clean energy?

According to the “environmental stewardship” page on St. Stephens’ website, other steps the parish is taking to care for God’s creation include:

  • Partnerships with other environmental stewardship organizations and ministries (past activities have been offered in conjunction with Richmond Region Energy Alliance, Sierra Club, and Interfaith Climate Justice Team)
  • Seasonal “Holy Hikes” at Pocahontas State Park
  • Expanding recycling opportunities at the Farmers Market @ St. Stephen’s, and sponsoring occasional electronic waste recycling
  • Earth Day observances and activities
  • Researching energy efficient options for buildings and grounds in collaboration with vestry
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