Ever since an Arkansas Solar Cooperative was formed two years ago, I have been looking forward to the day solar panels would be installed on a house of worship in Little Rock. That day came last month on Tuesday, September 6.
In 2014, Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light (which is the Environment Mission and Service Team of Interfaith Arkansas) worked with the Arkansas Renewable Energy Association, to establish the Arkansas Solar Cooperative so that those interested could take advantage of reduced costs through bulk purchasing of solar panels. Information sessions were held at houses of worship and community centers around the state. As a result, several people in the pews purchased panels for their rooftops.
In 2015, we again worked in collaboration to break ground on a cooperative solar garden in Scott, Arkansas. Through meter aggregation, utility customers without sunny south-facing rooftops could purchase solar panels in the garden. The power produced provides credits to their utility bills in town.
Now in 2016, ten solar panels have been installed on the roof of the Youth Building at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. The installation was a cooperative effort of Arkansas Renewable Energy Association, Stellar Sun, Interfaith Arkansas, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, and ministries and members at St. Mark’s Church.
The panels are expected to produce a typical average of 313.3 kWh of electricity per month. The clean energy production is expected to reduce the church’s carbon footprint by an approximate 650 pounds of carbon emissions per month or roughly 4 tons per year.
The improvement is part of St. Mark’s commitment through its EcoMark Ministry to stewardship of the earth’s natural resources and protection of the planet’s fragile atmosphere.
Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, Interfaith Power & Light at the national level, and Arkansas Renewable Energy Association donated seed money for the project. Stellar Sun offered a reduced installation cost to the church. Church members raised the remaining funds necessary for the project.