by Danny Schweers, Vestry Member, August 17, 2019.
This week we got our first looks at the benefits and costs of installing solar panels on the roof of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew (SsAM).
D-L Casson, the new Parish Administrator at SsAM, found a Rooftop Solar Report from Delmarva Power. That report, quite generic, estimates that 120 solar panels would cost $100,600 to install (before rebates) and would pay for themselves in 16 years. In terms of environmental impact, Delmarva estimates this array would eliminate 54,697 pounds of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere, equivalent to driving a 22-miles-per-gallon car 61,000 miles.
A much more precise and promising estimate came from the first supplier to give us an estimate on installing solar panels. This company — recommended to us by new SsAM vestry member Mary Morgan — proposes 132 solar panels on the south side of the roof over the nave for a 40.26 kW DC system. The company says this solar system will produce about 55,011 kWh of electricity a year, which is 28% of the church’s annual electricity needs. Based on the kWh supply rates Delmarva charges the church, that’s an electric bill savings of about $5,800 annually. The system should last 30 years.
Such numbers are indeed promising. They suggest the church could pay for the system in nine years by using the money it would not pay Delmarva Power. After that, the church would be saving something like $5,800 a year in lower net electricity use. And, the installation would mean much less CO2 would go into the atmosphere.
Thanks to SsAM member Tom Noyes, this week we made contact with CJ Emenike and Brett Swan who manage DNREC’s Green Energy Fund. They confirm we are on the right track and they are ready to answer questions as we proceed in evaluating the solar panel possibilities.
Vestry member Jenna Christi, echoed by vestry member Dan Young, said they liked the looks of a rotating sunflower solar array they saw on the PBS program, “This Old House.” Since this sunflower system is only good for ground installation, not on roofs, it is not a possibility we will be pursuing at this time.