St. Paul's stepped into the Photovoltaic era in March 2012. After installing solar (heating) panels on the Aspinwall Street side of the sanctuary thirty years ago (see photo "After the fire..." above), St. Paul's installed in March 2012 a 9.87 kilowatt array of Photo-voltaic (PV) panels on the parish house roof. This system has reduced our use of and dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity and continues our commitment to improve our environmental stewardship of the earth and saving money.
In terms of environmental stewardship, most (80%) of the fuel that is used to generate Massachusetts' electricity is fossil fuel, such as coal and gas. Statewide only 6% is from renewable sources. Photovoltaic panels convert the sun's rays to electricity, which we either use or sell it back to the NStar power company "grid" at a favorable rate. St. Paul's generates almost 40% of the electricity we use from this renewable source and contributes to improving the state-wide average. The power output varies by day and month based on the intensity of sunlight, as shown in the chart below. Checkout last month, last year, or try Custom Graphing!
Through creative use of federal and state incentives we installed this PV system in a way which reduces our electricity costs. It is effectively possible to both improve our finances slightly at the same time as we are improving our impact on the environment.
A St. Paul's "Solar Working Committee" was formed in August 2011 to investigate how to do this. We received competitive proposals from two well-qualified firms and reviewed the proposals with the Vestry. The Vestry approved the overall project and the selection of RePower Partners of Lexington to do the installation and the financing in ways which can take advantage of the state and federal incentives. RePower will also manage the system and ensure its power production for St. Paul's. This "lease to own" agreement will eventually allow St. Paul's to accrue all the benefits of the electric power savings of the PV system.
The array of PV panels is primarily on the flat roof section of the Parish Hall Roof (above the Lichtenburger Room), with a portion also on the sloped roof of the Parish hall itself. It may be desirable to add PV panels in other locations in the future; we have also given some consideration to the future of solar (heating) panels the Aspinwall St side of the sanctuary. More on such options at a future time. For now we have started on another significant chapter in St. Paul's role as a leader in sustainability and energy responsibility.
The individuals who contributed to the Solar Working Group include Jeffrey Brown, Tom Daniel, Jack Elder, Roger House, Genae Johnson, Stephen Kelley, John Mahoney, Jeff Mello, Fred Muehter, and Jim Batchelor.