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Solar Panels for St. Thomas Sunday Forum September 29, 2019

Brookes Britcher

Pam McKernan

Tim Russell


Agenda • Why Solar Panels? • Current Consumption • Solar Task Force • The How Much? What do We Save? • Timing • Closing Thoughts…


Before I get started… • Just a bit about me • “Main Men” – Peter and Collin • “Lifer” • Baptized, attend St. Thomas Nursery School, confirmed…

• Service At St. Thomas • • • • •

Acolyte (4 yrs), chalice bearer (2 yrs), verger (8 yrs) Taught St. Thomas Sunday School Most 2nd Saturdays you will find me… Vestry (2 yrs), Rector’s Warden (1 yr) Finance Committee (4 years) • which brings us to…


Why Solar Panels? • Finance Committee’s responsibility • Submit balanced budget to the Vestry for approval

• During my tenure on Finance Committee • Very successful Capital Campaign • But…

• “What is St. Thomas doing to help itself?” - Pem Hutchinson, sometime in 2015 (likely a number of times)

• Let’s find a solution


Current Consumption •

St Thomas as nine (9) PECO accounts

Church uses:

• 2016 - 337,023 kWh/year. • Trailing Twelve Months July 2017 - 430,807kWh • Increase is a result of opening of Learning Center. Represents a 27.8% increase (before two classrooms were fully opened and a relatively mild summer)

• PECO cost rates vary for each account and from year to year •2016 “aggregated” rate of 13.03 cents. •Trailing Twelve Months July 2017 “aggregated” rate of 11.43 cents.

• Total spend on electricity is approximately $49,200 per year. • Will assume 3% increase annually in energy costs. • Therefore in 25 years, St. Thomas can expect to spend over $100,000 annually on electricity (assuming same usage, no additional / fewer buildings, etc)


Formed Solar Task Force (2016) • Members included: • Pam McKernan, Tim Russell, Brookes Britcher, Roger Clark, Finance Committee Chairperson (Kathleen Schneer, Rob Hamilton, Nat Taylor, Steve Elliott, Phil Anspach), Rector’s Warden (David Thayer, Jim Pasquarella)

• How Viable? Very! • “Back 10” is flat, excellent exposure for panels, majority of land not in use • Timing is good; Federal Government offering 30% tax credit until Dec 2019; can be “monetized” by St. Thomas • Tax deductions available that also can be monetized by St. Thomas • PA Legislation making more terms for favorable (“closing borders”, HB531) • We wouldn’t be the first


Formed Solar Task Force (cont’d) • Now what? • Created a Request for Proposal (RFP) (June 2018) • Received 3 responses • Selected SR Energy (https://srenergyllc.com)

• Why SR Energy? • Local; has done work in this area • Turn-key solution / "one stop shop" for installation, maintenance, and financing • Been in business since Jan 2010; appears very sustainable • So far…so good! Been an excellent partner…available, consultative, helpful


Proposed Site for Solar Panels


The How Much? What Do We Save? •How Much? •5 Year Power Service Agreement (PSA) includes: •Upfront Payment [for example, $143,700-ish] •5 Years of $40,000 Annual Service Fee •6 Year Buyout [also $143,700-ish] •6 years and Beyond •Annual Maintenance / Inverter replacement and repairs

•What Do We Save? •Annually to PECO – pay only distribution fees and any electricity consumed above what the panels produce [about $14,500-ish annually] •New source of Income from sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) [$18,000-ish annually but likely to go up, down, and then eventually go away]

•Savings to St. Thomas over 25 years •$800,000-ish


Timing •So far: •Vestry Presentations - Nov 2016 and Sept 2019 •Landscape Commission – Jul 2017 •Buildings and Hardscape Commission – Nov 2017 •Vestry Approval to solicit pledges for initial payment - Jun 2019 ($127,500 raised to date! A nd Solar Endowment Fund has been “seeded”) •Legal Review – Aug 2019 •Diocese – conversations starting Jul 2018; have secured their full support!

•Looking ahead •Vestry approval - Oct 2019 •Finalize contract / site visit / re-confirm electric usage & that panels are “right sized” •Contract signing – Nov 2019 •Purchase Panels – Dec 2019 (“5% Test” or requirement to get project “materially” started in 2019 to secure current tax incentives)


Timing (cont’d) • 2020 and beyond • Install Panels – Apr 2020 • Go Live – May 2020 • Complete Yr 6 buyout solicitations (e.g. Foundations, SREC income, etc.)

Risk? 6 years to raise almost the same $$ that was raised in 3 months

• And then what? • Walking trail in “Back 10” for parishioners to exercise before and after worship, Moms after child drop off, etc. • Educational programs for “STEAM” room in Learning Center / camps – understanding climate change and importance of renewable energy (and actually see an inverter up close…) • Community involvement….


In Closing… • The potential for an array of this size can: • eliminate the same amount of carbon emissions that would result from burning 305,033 pounds of coal…each year. • Or eliminate the CO2 emissions from charging 35,578,560 smart phones. • Or provide the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions avoidance of switching 10,598 incandescent lamps to LEDs.

• This project fully supports the Genesis Covenant (Sept 2011) which challenges faith institutions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of each facility they maintain by 50% in ten years. Reduce Energy Use, Save Money, and Care for God’s Creation


Additional Sources


Genesis Covenant https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/genesis_convenant_final.pdf


Comments? Questions? Pam McKernan / pmckernan@comcast.net / 215.616.0565 or Solar@StThomasWhitemarsh.org

Profile for St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh

Creation Care: Solar at St. Thomas' Church  

Creation Care: Solar at St. Thomas' Church