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Rochester's first Solar House of Worship

A Penfield church has installed rooftop solar panels to power its building entirely with clean electricity, seeking to encourage environmental stewardship and set an example of caring for creation.

Rochester Christian Reformed Church, 2750 Atlantic Ave., began generating power with the system June 3. A 90-panel array will send surplus power onto the grid of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. during the summer and draw electricity from the grid to make up for any shortfall during the shorter, cloudier days of winter. The church estimates it will produce 38,600 kilowatt-hours annually and use about 37,000. The solar power project originated from a Sunday school class on the biblical mandate to care for God’s creation, said the pastor, Rev. Anthony Selvaggio. Church members see the project as a practical way to put their Christian faith into action, he said. GreenSpark Solar of Ontario, Wayne County, installed the system. The project cost approximately $72,000, partially offset by a subsidy of about $12,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA offers financial incentives for installation of both residential and commercial solar energy systems in the state. A financial analysis done for the church by GreenSpark Solar estimated that the system will save enough on electricity bills to pay for the project within 14 years, said James Leunk, a member of the church committee responsible for the solar project. The output of the system is covered by a 25-year warranty, he said, and the solar panels are likely to generate power for 30 years or more. “As we considered solar power, we were very pleased to realize that doing the right thing for creation also will cost the church less money in the long run,” Leunk said.

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