“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We Serve Faith Communities
We are energy consultants for the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), working as Faith Energies.
By contract with the NRPE our development work is pro bono to you. Typically, if a project gets built the investors in the project will pay us for the developed project. A portion of the fee is donated to the Covenant or NRPE. Our methodology is compelling, and plenty of projects get built, so we can afford what might seem too good to be true– our work for you is at no charge to you.
Our Mission is to help you serve the Directive of the program, to be good stewards of Creation. Our first goal is to educate you. Once you know your options then you can decide how to proceed. We start with a detailed analysis of your specific site & utility bills. We’ll take your own views, goals, preferences into account. Every aspect of the process is fully transparent to you. We
How We Work
We take the time to learn about your needs.
We gather information from you, particularly your electricity bills, and begin planning your project for optimal economics.
We find the investors for your project.
We have access to a national network of socially responsible investors who are willing to pay for, own, operate and maintain your on-site solar installation in exchange for a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI). That ROI is mostly provided by federal, state, and local tax incentives for building owners to install solar energy. Because most churches are registered as non-profits, they can’t directly benefit from
these incentives since they don’t pay taxes. Our model uses those incentives to recruit investors to pay for your solar project in exchange for your commitment to pay them for consuming the solar energy.
If one or more of your parishioners wants to donate they can become an investor.
If one or more of your parishioners wants to donate they can become an investor, earning the tax incentives on money they might’ve otherwise simply donated. We will educate them and set up the entire project for them.
We serve as your project manager.
If we agree that the solar installation will yield a suitable return for the investor and provide you the financial and other benefits you seek, we work with an experienced local solar vendor to complete the installation. We make sure the entire project is designed, permitted and installed correctly, all warranties are in place, and that the system operates properly throughout the term of the agreement.
Your only contract obligation is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
All or part of the total amount of electricity you currently consume each month and pay your utility company for will be replaced by clean solar energy. The rate you pay for this energy will be lower than what you currently pay your utility company. This rate and will be
locked in via the PPA, which typically lasts for 20 years, providing you with budget certainty for the term of the agreement.
We will use local contractors whenever possible.
We have a network of experienced solar vendors, and regularly vet new ones. We strive to support local jobs whenever possible. Should you already have a relationship with a solar company, we are happy to vet them to ensure they meet our high standards. This company will be responsible for the final design, permits, installation, and operations and maintenance of your on-site solar power. You will not be
responsible for the operations or maintenance of this system throughout the term of your PPA. Since the system is owned by an investor, that investor pays us to maintain the system for you. They’ll pay the local contractor to do the work, if any is needed.
You have choices during and at the end of the PPA.
What if you want to sell your building with the solar installation during the term of the PPA? The PPA payment obligation can be assigned to the new owner so that they will take over the monthly payments. At the end of the PPA term, you have the option to:
1. Request that we remove the installation altogether
2. Buy the system at its fair market value (which will be small by then and clearly defined in the PPA)
3. Extend the PPA
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a PPA?
A solar Power Purchase Agreement is a financial arrangement in which a third-party developer (the investor we recruit) owns, operates, and maintains the solar system, and a host customer (such as a church) agrees to site the system on its property and purchase the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period (typically 10-20 years). This financial arrangement allows the host customer (the church) to receive stable and lower-cost clean electricity, while the developer (investor) acquires valuable financial benefits, such as available federal, state and local tax credits and income generated from the sale of electricity. An easy way to think of it is that with solar you are buying your electricity from another utility, one you had put on your property. You’ll know the price you will pay instead of being subject to utility rate increases someone else decides. You’ll still have an electric meter and be connected to the Grid, and the old utility will still bill you for any power you buy from them, just what the solar doesn’t produce that month.
What type of maintenance is required for solar?
Solar installations have no moving parts, and therefore require very little (usually zero) maintenance. Other than washing the panels to remove dirt and checking to ensure all the fittings are tight, solar is pretty much “set it and forget it”. In many areas of the USA the cleaning isn’t even needed.
What does a solar installation consist of?
A solar installation consists of three basic components:
- Solar panels – made of specialized tempered glass, aluminum frames and silicon cells, these panels generate the electricity from the sun.
- Racking – typically made of aluminum, the racking system is what attaches the solar panels to the roof or ground.
- Inverter – this device converts the energy that is generated from your solar panels into electricity you can consume in your building.
Is there a warranty?
Most solar panels and racking come with a 10 – 25-year warranty, depending on the manufacturer. Inverters are typically warrantied for 10 years. However, since the investor will own your solar installation for the term of the PPA, you don’t have to worry about any warranty or maintenance during the term.
How long does a solar system last?
Solar cells degrade slowly over time. In hot climates it’s tracked at half of one percent (0.5%) per year. In cooler climates it’s less. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) tests and tracks this, and advises that the useful life of a solar installation is 50+ years. Inverters last about 20 years.
Why is the combination of technologies important?
Electricity bills are a combination of charges, two of which are electric consumption, which is just the total amount of electricity you use each month, and something called peak demand. Peak demand is the greatest amount of electricity you use during any 15-minute stretch during a month. If you’re subject to peak demand charges, as most customers are, you’ll see that this charge makes up a substantial portion of your bill each month. Solar cannot reliably reduce peak demand, but certain energy efficiency equipment does. This is why we aim to include this equipment in our solar installations.
Who are your investors?
Our investors are a mix of banks, private equity and foundations. All prioritize socially-responsible investments. We are actively seeking additional investors; which may be organizations, nonprofits or individuals; that may wish to prioritize projects with a particular denomination, region or group.
How do you make money?
As developers of the solar projects, our fee is paid by the investors. You pay us nothing for our development work; all of our expertise is available to you at no upfront cost. Even if you don’t contract for the project you’ll have knowledge, you will know the truth about these technologies and the potential your building has.
How else can congregations reduce my electric bills?
As part of our due diligence, we will investigate what other types of projects could help you reduce your bills. Lighting
upgrades, adding building controls, and replacing old heating/cooling equipment are the most common ways to reduce the amount of energy a building consumes.