• Location:

    Baltimore, MD

  • System Size:

    7.2 kW

  • Estimated Monthly Production:

    715 kWh

  • Projected Savings This Year:

    $1,296

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The decision to go solar is a bit of a long saga for Homewood Friends Meeting.  One of the testimonies (or principles) of Quakerism is stewardship for the environment and care of the Earth, so congregation member Rachael Neill and the house and grounds committee were already taking steps to make their building as green as possible to lighten its carbon footprint.

“We have a big south-facing roof and we loved the idea of going solar, but after a couple of years of exploring solar and getting estimates, we were really discouraged,” said Rachael. “As a non-profit, we can’t take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit that homeowners use. Finally, with Astrum Solar we found a partner who could help us make solar work.”

“We scaled down the scope of the project and held a bunch of fundraisers. We had yard sales, bake sales, a benefit concert, sold t-shirts that said ‘Going Green and Solar’ and one of our members sold wood working pieces. We kept plugging away and ultimately got a small grant, and then the trustees of our endowment fund chipped in to help get us over the top.”

As a non-profit, we can’t take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit that homeowners use.  Finally, with Astrum Solar we found a partner who could help us make solar work.

According to Rachael, who is now head of the solar energy committee, the installation went quicker than she expected and was really easy. “I didn’t have to do very much. It was very simple from our end. Astrum Solar handled all the paperwork and made the process go very smoothly. All I had to do was show up a few times and sign my name,” says Rachael. “The installation team was very professional and courteous. When there were some decisions that needed to made, the electricians consulted me and made sure they addressed all my aesthetic concerns with where the conduit was run.”

When the project was finished, Rachael sent out an email to the entire congregation to share with everyone what kind of impact their solar system was having on both the environment and their electricity costs. She described the experience as a thrill. She got emails from people who said they got tears in their eyes because they thought the congregation would never be able to go solar. All the committee members have access to the online performance monitoring system and Rachael is planning on sharing access with all congregation members.

“It is just a really satisfying feeling, and solar was definitely worth the struggles that came with raising the money and working through the group decision making process,” said Rachael.

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