In January Solar Richmond
persuaded the city to pilot
a solar thermal rebate
program. The program
awards Richmond building
owners $1,000 if they hire
a Solar Richmond graduate
on the installation job.
With so many people competing for green jobs, McGeoy’s technique is to “move the job interview
from the conference room to the rooftop, where our graduates will shine.”
Partnership Helps St. Paul’s Overcome Cost Barrier
For a growing number of church congregations, living out their values means incorporating energy e;ciency and renewable energy in their places of worship. Parishioners at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, Calif., for
years talked about going solar. Their goals: to reduce utility
costs over time, o;set greenhouse gas emissions and provide
locals with meaningful work. But the cost was far outside of
St. Paul’s means.
In 2007, the church partnered with Solar Richmond to
install a 135-panel rooftop system that supplies nearly all of
the church’s energy needs without adding any of the solar
initiative’s $187,000 cost to the parish budget. Although the
500-member church secured some donations, the bulk of
;nancing was made possible through deposits from congregational investors. Led by the chair of St. Paul’s environmental committee, investing parishioners banded together and
formed a private company to take advantage of solar rebates
and tax incentives. They named their limited liability corporation Sonlight Solar Power.
After the investments were secured, Sonlight and St. Paul’s
forged a power purchase agreement (PPA). Under the PPA, Sonlight owns the solar arrays and provides solar electricity to the
parish at a ;xed rate competitive with utility power. The funds
that the church once spent on Paci;c Gas & Electric bills now
go to Sonlight to reimburse investors. The investors plan to
transition ownership from Sonlight Solar to the church once all
tax bene;ts are realized and their investments are repaid. The
Rev. Sylvia Vásquez estimates that St. Paul’s will begin to see
considerable savings in 10 years or less and continue to bene;t
long afterward, as the panels are under warranty for 25 years.
Solar Richmond was able to secure pro bono assistance from
a San Francisco law ;rm, Hanson Bridgett LLP, to represent the
church throughout the PPA process. Although complicated,
the model is one that Solar Richmond hopes to replicate.