St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church has elevated their connection to nature with a new solar system. Installed on three covered parking structures, this project was made possible by a generous gift from dedicated parishioner Dr. Donna Cosulich. The solar system allows the church to save money and make a public statement about their commitment to being responsible stewards of the world. It will serve as an example to the parishioners that protecting the environment is simple, practical and cost effective. St. Philip's dedication to solar power and the environment is not a new commitment. The St. Philip's Green Team has been investigating and enacting ways for the church to 'green' their image since 2005. The Green Team was founded by Dr. Cosulich who passed away this January after seeing solar become a reality for St. Philip’s. The Green Team’s goal is to “explore the wonder of our world, addressing our roles as citizens and people of faith as we wrestle with potential global climate change." In addition to supporting the new solar system, the Green Team sponsors educational forums on environmental topics, publishes a "green tips" brochure and has many other programs designed to bring attention to ways parishioners can make small changes to 'green' their lives.
Bruce Plenk, Solar Energy Coordinator for the City of Tucson, said: "It's great to see churches join with the City of Tucson, doctors' offices, veterinarians' offices, bookstores, pizza places, office buildings and many homes in Tucson in going solar. Congratulations to St. Philip's In The Hills, its Green Team and Technicians for Sustainability on the completion of this wonderful solar project."
The financial savings will be immediate for St. Philip’s. The church acquired the project through a lease, leaving them to collect the savings each month. Over the course of 20 years, the church will see over $500,000 in cumulative utility savings.
Designed and installed by Technicians for Sustainability, St. Philip's 160 kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system is estimated to generate 24,000 kWh per month. The system consists of 522 SunPower modules and will provide over 90% of the entire facility's electricity needs, encouraging the church to take further energy saving measures. The system has the added benefit of offering shaded parking to visitors, improving the quality of the St. Philip's experience.
In keeping with their desire to be stewards of the environment, St. Philip’s new solar structures will save 24,100 lbs of coal and 12,050 gallons of water from being used to generate electricity each month. Their new source of electricity also prevents 53,670 lbs of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere each month. According to the Rev. Dr. Tom Lindell the solar array “will keep on giving … not only in a significant savings in electrical costs but also in the long-term benefit to our fragile ecosystem of avoiding putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels.”
Two and a half years after the installation of their solar system, the Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa said, "We are thrilled with the solar project. It has helped us to be much more responsible stewards of God's creation, make an important statement about our beliefs to the community, and save significantly on our power bills. Working with [TFS] went very smoothly and we felt good about our relationship."