We Generate Our Own Electricity!

60 Solar Panels installed August 26, 2019 have reliably produced 31 MegaWatt Hours  of electricity per year, consistently. The number of panels was chosen to produce the typical amount of electricity used by the church in a year. Electricity produced by the panels first goes into the church buildings and any excess is sold back to the City of Palo Alto. 

If the panels are not producing enough electricity at night or during the winter, we purchase electricity from the city of Palo Alto. The original proposal forecast 8.9 years to pay for the panel installation from the cost savings of buying less electricity.  With low maintenance costs for 25 years, we forecast significant savings over the life of the panels.

Rates for electricity have been increasing over the last 3 years, so the solar panel generated electricity has saved the church more money each year.

 During the summer, with long days and less electricity usage we get a credit, and during the winter we have a bill. Electricity is more expensive during the summer than the winter, as the following table shows.

In 2023, the church spent about $2k on electricity, which seems like quite a bit. However, without the panels, the cost would have been $8k, so we saved $6k. The panels cost $71 k, so the payback breakeven point is 11.8  years. Assuming utility rates continue to go up we will save more each year and we could meet the forecast 8.9 year break even point.

Thanks go to the folks that had the vision for the panels and brought it into existence way back in 2019;  Rev. Matt McDermott, Diane Guinta, Justin Martin, John Frankfurt, Peter Kidder and Simon Binns.  Coordination by Buildings and Grounds and oversight by Finance commissions smoothed the process. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Bruce Wilson or the Buildings and Grounds commission.

Smart meters that will continuously monitor electricity usage are expected to be installed at the church by mid 2025 by the City of Palo Alto. This extra information will allow the church to further improve resource usage. We may also put separate meters on different buildings if needed for best operation.

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