First United Church

What started your congregation’s quest for solar power?

This effort started through Al Ruesink designating memorials in his honor be given to the “Solar Array Fund” at First United Church.   The fund hadn’t existed before. By having a starter culture of designated money there, it made the Church Council prioritize proceeding with getting an array to honor Al’s wishes.  We sorely missed Al. Once we got going on solar installation, Al’s family were Angel Donors to assure a good-sized array. Fundraising in-house, with respect to their wishes, followed with funds raised to be able to afford the resultant 82.89kW array.

What were the biggest obstacles your congregation faced?

Institutional pace and committed leadership were the biggest obstacles to starting action.  In life, Al had run up against slow institutional pace in making this dream of his come true.  He forced our hand from beyond the grave. You go, Al!

What actions have had the biggest impact in reducing your energy use?

After the array which generates so much electricity, I’d say replacing the old light bulbs with LED bulbs in the kitchen, Fellowship Hall, and the fixtures illuminating our tower have so far been the sources of biggest savings.  These actions were taken in ’17 and ’18.

What has been most helpful in getting households to reduce their energy use?

The informational sessions at the time we were fundraising, association with SIREN expertise, and bulletin board/newsletter rah-rah blurbs have been the most effective things in building interest for energy savings and installing solar arrays on homes in the congregation.  Three families have gone solar since the church did in ’16.  Also, the bulletin board’s seven (to date) Conservation Inspiration interviews may have had some effect on encouraging people to be reducing their energy consumption.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing now?

Current challenges are leadership in this movement and finding time among the many church tasks to do, including building up the congregation which is down in numbers, including numbers of leaders with time to devote to church doings.

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