Many congregations and faith communities are interested in showing their
commitment to Creation care and responsible environmental stewardship by using solar power to generate electricity or provide hot water for their buildings. Solar power has many advantages over conventional power sources, including lack of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
However, it has historically been too expensive for many faith communities and other nonprofit institutions to consider. In order to assist congregations in going solar, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light is offering a revolving loan fund that can make interest-free loans to congregations for the installation of photovoltaic systems for electricity and solar water heating systems (as long as they are replacing electric water heaters). The payback period is 10 years. Loans are available for up to $15,000. In most cases, $15,000 will not cover the cost of the entire system, so GIPL encourages congregations to explore other sources of financing as well. Such options may include something as straightforward as matching donations from members, or congregations may wish to explore options that will allow them to take advantage of existing federal and state incentives. It is up to the congregation to decide how remaining funds will be raised, but plans for additional financing should be included in the loan application. Congregational Qualifications Congregations that wish to install solar systems should already have undertaken basic energy efficiency and conservation measures and these should be detailed in the application. As well, congregations that apply for funding through this program should have a demonstrated commitment to incorporating creation stewardship in the faith life of their congregation.
Indicators of this commitment may include some of the following activities or other comparable actions:
1. Participation in ‘Care for Creation’ programs
2. Establishment of an “Earth Care Team” from among the congregation – a
group of members focusing on measuring the energy footprint of the
congregation’s buildings and working on both behavioral and technological
strategies to reduce that footprint
3. Establishment of a Sustainability Fund – a dedicated line item in the
congregation’s budget that is available to pay the incremental costs of
conservation and efficiency measures over a sustained period of time
4. Commitment to including themes of Creation care in worship services and educational programs. Congregations that receive funding will be required to offer opportunities for GIPL to address their clergy, trustees and building committees (or comparable decision- making bodies), and the congregation as a whole (through worship services or educational classes).
To apply for this loan, congregations should submit an application detailing the
1. Name of Faith Community
2. Faith Tradition or Affiliation
3. Contact Person
7. Signatures of support from staff and lay leadership (at least one of each)
8. The type of system proposed (include details such as the size of the proposed system, whether it is for electricity generation or hot water heating, etc.)
9. Supplier of the system (if a supplier hasn’t been decided on, please note those that are being considered)
10. Estimated cost of the system
11. Plans for raising additional funds, if needed
12. Additional benefits to the system (for instance: besides producing energy, will there be opportunities to use the system as a demonstration project or educational resource?)
13. Energy efficiency or conservation steps already taken in the congregation.