Solar power warms Yarmouth church congregation

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YARMOUTH — Just as church spires reach out to the heavens in outstretched glory, so can solar panels on the roof reflect ecological goodness and cost savings.

The First Parish Congregational Church at 116 Main St. is now the first church in Yarmouth to turn to the sun to power its electrical needs. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the milestone took place on April 9, Palm Sunday.

Parishioner Sue Inches said church trustees decided to explore solar power via a contract with ReVision Energy, and at the annual meeting in June, the $80,000 proposal was presented. The church’s back roof was the area selected for a 10 kilowatt system. Pleased by what they learned about solar’s benefits, church trustees decided to place solar panels on both roofs, expanding power produced to 35.2 kilowatts per hour. 

Cost obstacles fell by the wayside, Inches explained. That’s because financing through ReVision Energy required no upfront costs. Financing through ReVision, a church memo notes, provides an “annuity,” where the cost of electricity can be locked in for 40 years. Over the 40 years, the trustees will save over $180,000 on the church’s electrical utility bills. 

The church’s history spans the centuries. The congregation itself dates to 1730. The Italianate architectural style opened its doors to parishioners and the community in 1867. Architect George M. Harding designed the church and, on June 20, 1995, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Across Maine, other churches are going solar, the church memo points out. The list includes Cumberland United Church of Christ, St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland, the York-Ogunquit United Methodist Church, Vassalboro Friends Meetinghouse, Midcoast Friends Meetinghouse in Damariscotta and Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church.

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or lconnell@theforecaster.net. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

Solar panels on the roof of First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth complement its vertical spire.

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