Solar Survey Summary

Renewable Energy Revival for Faith Communities

Survey collection dates: February 17 – March 13, 2015

Total # of questions: 23

Total distribution: 80 faith communities

Total responses: 20 faith communities

Response rate: 25%


General Project Details:

The vast majority of faith communities (90%) installed a microFIT sized project (10 kW). There was 1 FIT project with a 60 kW installation. There was also one single net-metering installation of 720 watts. 50% of respondents installed early on and locked in the highest price of $0.802 per kWh for the duration of the 20 year microFIT contract. The remaining respondents received the “FIT 2.0” price of $0.549 per kWh.

Projects were financed in a variety of ways and combinations. 55% of projects were funded by various types of debt instruments (loans, lines of credit) while donations, grants, offerings and fundraising appeared in almost all responses. Finally, 35% of respondents were able to fund the project through reserve funds.

Why Solar:

The vast majority of faith communities installed solar as a way to supplement their income while at the same time lowering their carbon footprint. The projects were most often inspired by specific congregation members or the property committees within the faith community. The survey also found that in all but one faith community, other energy efficiency improvements and projects were completed prior to, or during the solar installation process. This is important because it indicates a larger trend (beyond solar) towards lowering energy costs and GHG emissions. No other renewable energy options were seriously considered, other than geothermal heating/cooling systems. This result coincides with the previous point in that faith communities are looking at many options to lower energy costs and emissions.

Getting the Project Started:

As expected, financing and cost of the installation were indicated as major barriers for 35% of the respondents; however pushback from the congregation and potential permitting and structural issues each appeared in 25% of responses. It is interesting to note that “no one to spearhead the undertaking” received 0 responses, however when asked what the barriers might be for other faith communities looking to install solar, 80% felt that “no one to spearhead the undertaking” would be a major barrier. 80% of respondents felt that financing would be a major barrier while 50% felt that pushback from the congregation would be a major barrier.

In terms of the logistics, the majority of respondents felt that proper planning and organization and finding the right installer was key to a successful project. Many respondents also felt that communication with the congregation and the “story” or “reasoning” behind the project was also essential.


Installation Experience and Hardware:


Out of 20 respondents, 17 gave their installers top marks, with only 1 respondent having a poor experience with their installer. 60% of respondents experienced no major issues during the installation/hook up of their project and of those respondents that had issues, additional roof repairs/replacement and/or structural issues required resolution. It is interesting to note that no respondents had issues with their OPA application nor did they have an issue with the connection to the grid (local hydro company).


Community Experience since Grid-connection:


There have been a number of benefits noted by the respondents with respect to the affect that the installation has had on their community. 65% and 70% of respondents felt that energy awareness and Care for Creation awareness have increased in their congregations. It was also noted that 75% of respondents have received inquirers from other faith communities and 65% have received inquiries and comments from their surrounding communities concerning the panels.


The revenue from the microFIT project is being used in a variety of ways. After financing has been paid off (which was the number one response), respondents are planning on using the revenue to supplement operational and capital costs, fund energy efficiency improvements