Case Study: Solar Option Goes to Work for Oregon Church

WFM Staff  ·  November 9, 2012

NW Photon Energy (NWPE) of Portland, Ore., announces the completion of a 100-kW, photovoltaic (PV) solar system for Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin, Ore. The 2,400-member, 34-year-old church installed the roof-top mounted system that recently went live, and is one of a growing number of non-profits in Oregon to upgrade to renewable energy.

Kirk Cameron, president of NW Photon Energy, reports that the solar install was possible through the execution of a Facility Lease Agreement, a viable alternative for non-profits. “Unfortunately, there are very few solar programs available in which non-profits can participate and financially benefit,” says Cameron. Solar programs typically have federal tax incentives and depreciation schedules that can be utilized by for-profit businesses. Cameron adds, “Without these incentives, the return on investment (ROI) would more than double the length of time to pay off the system.”

NWPE’s proposal to Rolling Hills Community Church allows them to generate revenue over a 15-year period by leasing their roof space to NWPE for the installation and operation of the solar system. At the end of the lease term, the church has two options—they can purchase the system at an attractive price or they can purchase power at 50% below market rates.

The 100-kW system consists of approximately 400 photovoltaic, poly-crystalline solar modules manufactured by Schuco; inverters and an energy monitoring systems supplied by Advanced Energy Renewables; and an S-5 clamping system on standing seams.

About a year ago, congregation member Guy Anderson proposed the system to church leadership along with NW Photon Energy, the designers and installer of the system. Anderson is also construction project manager for NW Photon Energy. After two unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the state’s Feed-In-Tariff Program, the church was accepted in the April 2012 lottery, and preparation for the solar install began.

Anderson notes, “The church is setting a great example for non-profit institutions of all sizes to follow. I believe energy stewardship is our responsibility as a congregation and community member. This is a great way for us to show our commitment to bettering the Earth while encouraging our local community to share in this commitment.”

The solar system is owned by 3CSolar of Portland, a solar financing company dedicated to commercial solar energy systems for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. 3CSolar worked exclusively with Tonkon Torp, also of Portland, to design a facilities lease agreement that allows 3CSolar to own and operate the system while leasing church-owned roof space.

“Tonkon Torp expertly negotiated the contract details for the partnership to facilitate 3CSolar’s use of federal energy tax credits which the church was not qualified to use,” comments Cameron, also co-owner of 3CSolar.

NWPE and 3CSolar provide the financing, design, installation, monitoring and maintenance of the project. Cameron notes, “This third-party approach allows Rolling Hills Community Church to focus on its core mission and ministry while NW Photon Energy manages the energy system.”



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