In our parking lot is an array of solar panels, developed in partnership with Cleveland-based Solar Action, that supply electricity for our building. Solar panels are not often talked about as an expression of religious conviction. But in 2012, as the debate over climate change started to heat up, First Unitarian Church of Cleveland (now Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland) decided to put up Solar Panels in their parking lot as an expression of our call to environmental stewardship, an expression of our belief in the 7th principal
Respect for the interdependent web of all
existence of which we are a part.
Ministry for Earth sought this system as part of the Green Sanctuary certification which was awarded in 2011. The system includes:
1. Solar array with 380 panels, each producing 240 watts of power
2. An Electric Car Charging Station
3. 38 covered parking spaces under the solar panels
4. Gutters and cisterns to collect water coming off the panels for use in our garden, diverting some water from the storm sewer (paid for by a grant from the NEO Sewer District)
The solar panels have generated 120% of the congregation’s electrical needs since its installation in 2012. Excess electricity is put back into the grid. Due to the timing of our requirements for electricity vs. when the panels generate power, we still purchase electricity from CEI. The 380 panels generated 94,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2020– enough to supply the yearly power needs of about 10 homes, eliminating 77 tons of CO2 per year.
This project, costing over $500,000 for the solar panels and installation, was developed in partnership with Solar Action, a Cleveland-based company whose objective is “to minimize the financial burden associated with the construction of large-scale solar installations by governments and non-profit institutions.” Solar Action made the upfront investment in the panels and installation, with UUCC and its predecessor congregation paying for it through the purchase of the electricity generated by the panels at a rate designed to produce savings over the purchase of all power from CEI. Recent discussions with Solar Action will result in UUCC owning the panels before the end of 2021. The panels have a useful life of 25-30 years.
In recent years Electric vehicles are becoming more available and more popular. We often see vehicles taking advantage of our EV Charging Station. We do accept donations for the electricity used to charge your car. donate
In the future we will continue to explore more ways that we as a congregation can reduce our carbon footprint.
Remembering that: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children….. and we share it with all living things.