Guilford Church goes solar

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GUILFORD — Last Spring the Guilford Community Church, UCC, celebrated after the March Sugar Supper, not only for the well-attended supper but also for having used less than one half a barrel of trash. The rest was used as compost among church families or recycled. This fall, thanks to a partnership with Southern Vermont Solar, the church community is taking a bigger step toward net-zero impact.

Dunham Rowley, long time leader of the church, had attended state level conferences and was impressed by another church which had made the commitment to solar power. He envisions this as a "way to take the lead in southern Vermont" acknowledging the national enthusiasm within the United Church of Christ for green technologies and "to lessen consumption by providing energy to the grid." He has acted as intermediary between Southern Vermont Solar and the church.

Within the church there was interest among leaders, especially when it became clear that the church could use state incentives. Rowley says there were "no real glitches. It was and easy process and the church approved it by a unanimous vote."

Patty Meyer, the church administrator, acknowledges that members have driven by to check out the new panels and are, without exception, "proud we are walking our talk." She notes: "God said we are stewards of the Earth and I am so grateful to folks who contributed to our capital campaign that we were able to do this ... people come up the stairs, proud of the decision ... of the distinctive panels. It really sends the message that we take are taking bold steps toward energy conservation. We are forward looking, anticipating the future and the impact of our lives ... leaving the earth in a better place for our children."

Victoria Roberts, co-owner of Southern Vermont Solar noted: "Making solar more accessible is part of our mission. The most robust federal government solar incentive, a game changer that allowed for rapid solar growth over the years, has been a 30 percent tax credit. While it has helped businesses and home owners afford solar, nonprofits and low income people have been excluded. Because of this frustrating conundrum, we were inspired to take some time to get financially creative with the church to make solar a reality. Helping a nonprofit to go solar, and one as impactful to our community as the Guilford Community Church, feels so right. I am proud of the church for making it a priority to go green, and am honored to be part of this eco-community collaboration."

Rev. Lise Sparrow, pastor of the church, steps back in the midst of a gorgeous fall sky, looks up at the panels and acknowledges it feels good to be doing this, "for our children, for the earth and as hope for our neighbors, that we can make change when we work together."

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