"St. Vincent's church powered by the sun in Salem"
St. Vincent de Paul Parish has moved an eco-step ahead of many other churches in the area — and it's paying off. The northeast Salem church installed solar panels to its roof in November, and church officials said the savings for the parish have been powerful.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish has recently installed solar panels, which were paid for by two of its parishioners. The Catholic church in northeast Salem expects to save $2,500 per year in electricity costs because of the system. (Photo by Timothy Gonzalez)
By Jillian Daley
St. Vincent de Paul Parish has moved an eco-step ahead of many other churches in the area — and it's paying off.
The northeast Salem church installed solar panels to its roof in November, and church officials said the savings for the parish have been powerful.
Sue Minten, the church's business manager, said St. Vincent de Paul had been discussing using solar panels for years and finally took the plunge late last year.
"At a minimum, the church's annual PGE energy bill will be reduced by approximately 25 percent, or $2,500 per year," Minten said.
Parishioners Steven and Marilyn Lippincott made the dream happen.
The two donated a solar electric system and also paid for its installation by REC Solar Inc. and Sunsource Oregon LLC, Minten said. The system is expected to last at least 25 years, she added.
A solar electric system harnesses the sun's power with photovoltaic (PV) cells, and converts that natural energy into electricity, according to the Oregon Department of Energy.
St. Vincent's new system, as of Jan. 3, had generated 1,129-kilowatt hours, or more than $100 worth of power, "even with the clouds and foggy weather," Minten said. It is expected to produce 28,595 kilowatt hours per year, she said.
The system was switched on Nov. 23 and started producing energy the same day.
St. Vincent de Paul also has added other green measures, Minten said.
The church's Peace and Justice Commission asked parishioners who are regular monthly donors to consider giving a little extra to support energy efficiency.
They responded generously, which allowed the church to tap power from a PGE windmill.
The parish last year also recycled nearly 95 percent of its annual February parish dinner waste — including napkins, Minten said.
Minten said all of this work befits a church.
"Energy-efficiency and renewable-energy improvements are right in line with the purpose of nonprofit organizations — to serve others," Minten said. Reducing energy costs "demonstrates good stewardship of our contributors' dollars."
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 1010 Columbia St. NE, holds Mass at 8:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Sundays, according to the church's January 2012 calendar. There also is a 1 p.m. Sunday Mass available in Spanish.
For information, call (503) 363-4589 or go to www.stvincentsalem.org/Parish/ParishHome.htm.
To explore REC Solar's solar power business options and home services, go to www.recsolar.com.