On Oct. 13 a St. Clare’s parish wide meeting was held to consider the proposal to install solar panels on the social hall and office roofs. Such a significant change to the building requires congregational approval. Those who were at that meeting learned a bit about the project and the congregation approved the installation. My goal here is to inform those of you who may have missed the meeting about the project and put in my plug for investors.

For some 5 years Genesis has had a Green Committee whose charge is to find ways to reduce our building’s carbon footprint. They’ve recommended and had installed such things as LED lights, more efficient heating and cooling systems and better windows. One of the first items on the committee’s agenda in 2014 was investigation of solar panels to reduce our use of fossil fuel-generated electricity. This goal is now being achieved. It is estimated that the number of solar panels we can install on the building roof will supply about 25% of the electricity needed to run our building.

How will we pay for solar panels? We could ask for donations for this specific purpose. However, because St. Clare’s, TBE, and Genesis are not subject to taxes, we would not be able to take advantage of the 30% tax credit on solar panels currently offered by the Federal government. For this reason, the Green Committee and Genesis proposed creation of a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Investors will buy shares in the LLC and the LLC will purchase the panels. Individual investors will be able to take advantage of the 30% tax credit, which is part of the return on their investment. The corporation will be responsible for maintaining the panels and will sell electricity to Genesis fixed at the current DTE rate. A corporation-paid accountant will keep track of the finances and provide tax statements for investors. Only members of St. Clare’s and TBE are eligible to be investors. Anytime after 5 years, Genesis has the option to buy the solar panels from the LLC at a significantly reduced cost. Alternatively, after 20 years the LLC will gift the system to Genesis. When Genesis takes ownership of the system, the LLC will be dissolved.

St. Clare’s Vestry, the Diocese of Michigan, the TBE Board, and Genesis have all approved the project and now St. Clare’s congregation has approved the installation. The corporation, called Eastover Power, LLC, has been formed and has an Operating Agreement and a Power Purchase Agreement with Genesis. The project is expected to be a win for all involved. As members of Genesis, we will decrease our use of fossil fuel-generated electricity and save money (estimated savings of $296,000 over the 30 year life of the solar panels) and investors will get a small return on their money (estimated at 1-1.5% annual return). I have chosen to invest in Eastover Power because while not a great financial investment, this is an environmental statement and my small investment in planet earth. At this writing, Eastover Power has commitments for $120,000 of the $130,000 needed to complete installation. The minimal investment is $5000 (5 shares at $1000/share).

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, although the person who knows everything about this is Barry Fuller.

Joanne Heaton