Wesley Uniting Church Canberra switches on to solar

Wesley Uniting Church in Canberra has long been committed to caring for God's creation.  The church has now installed a large 30kW solar system on its roof, as a part of a bulk purchase of solar systems for faith groups in the ACT.

A 30kW solar photovoltaic system on Canberra's Wesley Uniting Church Lancaster Hall is now feeding power into the grid.  Since being switched on at lunchtime on Monday 2 August 2010, the system, which has 162 solar panels, has produced an average of almost 90 kWh per day.  This figure is expected to double in summer.

The Canberra Central Parish (Wesley at Forrest and St Aidan’s at Narrabundah) has long been committed to caring for God’s creation.  Over the years, the parish has held many events and workshops on environmental themes.  In early 2008, the parish adopted an “Eco Justice Charter”, outlining the theological basis for environmental concern and action and presenting suggestions for individuals, groups and the church itself.

As a practical demonstration of concern for global warming and its effects on millions of the most disadvantaged in our world, the solar project received overwhelming support from the Wesley congregation.  The church met the project costs of almost $140,000 almost entirely through donations from members, many of whom are unable to install panels on their own homes or apartments.  The solar system will also help the church’s finances – generating an annual income of over $20,000 from the ACT government's gross feed-in tariff, and covering about 50% of the church’s usage of electric energy and most all of their electricity costs.

The solar system installation was a part of a bulk purchase for faith groups in the ACT organised by non-profit community sustainability group SEE-Change.  49 solar systems, totalling 153kW of capacity, were installed.  The supplier was the Pambula-based Pyramid Power, which was selected in a rigorous process on the basis of considerations of product quality, customer service and price.

Chris Emery, a member of the Parish’s Service and Social Justice Mission Team, who spent many hours working on the project, said “The project is a particular achievement for the parish seeing we are making such a large contribution to the protection of the environment.”

Individual members of Canberra Central Parish have also taken advantage of the bulk buy and many other people are still having smaller solar systems installed on their own roofs.  Other Uniting Churches and their members, including O'Connor Uniting Church and Kippax Uniting Church, have also participated in the solar panels bulk buy.