Berks County Church Embraces Solar Energy, Backed by Federal Clean Energy Tax Credits

U.S. Representative Chrissy HoulahanSubmitted Image

READING, PA — The Reformation Lutheran Church in Exeter Township, Berks County, has proudly installed a rooftop solar panel system. The move, which is part of a growing trend among houses of worship nationwide, showcases the positive impact of federal clean energy tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act.

U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan and PennEnvironment Field Director Flora Cardoni visited the church recently to witness the solar transformation firsthand. They praised the church’s initiative, highlighting the abundant, efficient, and increasingly affordable nature of solar energy.

“There’s never been a better time for houses of worship to use the power of the sun to electrify their congregations,” said Cardoni. She added that Pennsylvania congregations need to seize the opportunity provided by the federal solar incentives and abundant sunshine.

The 69-panel rooftop solar system, installed five months ago, has already displaced over six tons of carbon and generated about $1,500 worth of electricity for the church. The Berks County Community Fund matched the grant used to finance the system, with additional funding available through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The installation of solar panels is a practical and sustainable choice for houses of worship. While these buildings are less frequented during weekdays, the solar panels continue to generate power, which can be sold back to utility companies. During weekend prayer services, congregations can benefit from clean power and lower utility bills.

“It’s inspiring to see community organizations lead by example and adopt sustainable practices,” said Rep. Houlahan. She emphasized the role of the Inflation Reduction Act in making clean energy more accessible, and noted the environmental and economic benefits of leveraging federal clean energy tax credits.

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Besides financial benefits, solar panels also increase a community’s resilience during extreme weather events. If a power outage occurs, solar panels and batteries can function independently from the grid, keeping the lights on. This capability is crucial for houses of worship that provide shelter during emergencies.

Currently, Pennsylvania ranks 26th in the nation for solar power. The state has immense potential to harness this abundant and renewable source of energy, and the Reformation Lutheran Church’s initiative is a step towards realizing this potential.

Pastor Paul Metzloff of the Reformation Lutheran Church shared that the decision to go solar was not merely about cost savings. He said, “It was an outgrowth – not just of the idea of saving money, and enjoying that cost savings – but also the idea that we’re called as Christians to love God and our neighbor.”

“The migrant farm worker who is picking tomatoes in 120-degree weather or the Bangladeshi farmer who’s rice field is washing away, those are our neighbors who are suffering today because of the climate crisis. So this seemed like the very least we could do is try to start getting some of our power from sustainable means,” Pastor Metzloff continued.

The move by the Reformation Lutheran Church exemplifies the growing trend of faith communities playing a pivotal role in environmental stewardship. It provides an inspiring example for other houses of worship and nonprofits, who can now directly benefit from federal tax credits to finance the installation of solar panels, thanks to a new “direct pay” credit detailed in a guide from PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center.

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This shift towards renewable energy sources like solar power is not just a trend; it’s a necessary step towards building a more sustainable and resilient future. As more communities like Berks County embrace these initiatives, they contribute to reducing carbon emissions and promoting long-term environmental health.

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