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Church comes together to install solar panels


Photo courtesy Hans Dankers

The Monroe Congregational Church added a solar panel system to its roof to help reduce its carbon emissions.


MONROE — The Monroe Congregational Church at 301 S. Lewis St. decided to take a leap into the world of clean energy. Two weeks ago, the church installed 40 14-kilowatt solar panels on the top of the church’s roof.
“Our congregation feels so blessed that we can take this step,” the church’s pastor Jane Sorenson said in an email.
Members of the church first got the idea to work toward reducing their carbon footprint while attending a men’s retreat that was focused on climate change and its impacts. After toying with the idea for a few weeks and researching different options, Hans Dankers and other committed congregants decided to push for installing solar panels.
“We thought that we had to do this. The church wants to reduce its carbon emissions,” Dankers said.
But members had to work hard to raise the funds to pay for this somewhat costly investment.
“First we went around and started a drive which raised about $10,000. Then some generous members decided to help pay for the rest of costs,” Dankers said.
These panels, which were manufactured and installed by Western Solar of Bellingham, should be able to generate power for the church over the next 30 to 40 years. And although the initial investment costs may be high, members such as Dankers say that these panels are worth it.
“Solar panel costs have rapidly decreased over the past few years. This definitely makes them a great investment,” Dankers said.
Monroe Congregational Church is not the only organization in Snohomish County concerned with green energy. According to data collected by the Snohomish PUD, 2,127 on-site solar projects have been built date on residential and commercial properties connected to the grid. Combined, these projects have the capacity to generate nearly 17,600 kilowatts of clean power. Additionally, the PUD launched a community solar project last April in which 500 customers are currently participating. A PUD manager said there are many motives for installing solar panels.
“Reasons to install solar include on-site generation, bill credits and contributing local and diversified clean energy to the grid,” said Suzy Oversvee, Snohomish PUD’s Senior Customer and Energy Services Program Manager.
Even in a somewhat cloudy region like western Washington, many say that solar can still be an effective avenue for power generation. Panel prices have dropped drastically and their efficiency has increased at a large rate, making it easier for solar to be an option in areas that may not traditionally consider it one.
“Solar panel effectiveness has increased considerably in the past few years. Here in the PNW, our long, sunny, summer days are ideal for solar generation. During the rest of the year, our cloudy weather does impede effectiveness to a degree. However, even on cloudy days, panels can still generate electricity,” Oversvee said.

 

  

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