Our first plans called for a 300 kW, 1,000 solar panel array on a large parking canopy. After many engineering challenges and four appearances before the Rocky River Planning Commission, we finalized a design for a rooftop installation.
Although our solar panels do reduce the church’s electricity bill, that was not the main goal. Tom Smith, the member who led the solar effort, stated that the goals from the start were to “do the right thing by reducing our carbon footprint, serve as an example for others, and provide an educational resource for local students.” The connection to students, or anyone interested in solar panel data, is through this LINK.
The system was paid for through the generosity of several donors, and a fundraiser that encouraged members to sponsor one or more panels at $650 each. We are especially proud of the students in our 6/7th grade Sunday school class who held a pancake breakfast to raise the cost of one panel.
We have replaced over 400 fluorescent bulbs with more efficient LED bulbs, but we will always require electricity from some source. By turning to a renewable source, West Shore joins 5 other Unitarian Universalist churches in Ohio and over 170 UU churches nationwide. Doing so is in line with the 7th Principle of Unitarian Universalism: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
Our annual solar electricity production is about 75,000 kWh. During the pandemic years, we produced slightly more, used less, and sent more back to the grid.
We pay about $0.06/kWh for electricity and $0.10/kWh for its delivery. Each kWh we produce for our own use saves us $0.16/kWh. “Net Metering” under the utility in our area means we are only credited $0.06/kWh for any electricity we send back to the grid.
Production started on 11-02-2017
The array provides 20% of the church’s needs.
The installation was done by YellowLite Solar of Cleveland
There are 198 SolarWorld panels, at 345 W each, giving us a total of 68.31 kW.
The panels face south on a 10-degree tilt, on Ecolibrium mounts held down with 30lb. blocks.
Part of our continuing solar effort is to maintain a nationwide database of UU churches whose renewable energy experiences can help others thinking about making the switch. If you or your church, or non-church, organizations are looking for information on how other people have done it, please contact our church at 440-333-2255.
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