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East Kentucky church among first to embrace solar power

 

CAMPTON—An eastern Kentucky congregation has become one of the first to embrace solar power as a means to simultaneously help their community and reduce their carbon footprint.

Campton Baptist Church in Wolfe County recently installed 80 solar panels on the roof of the church, a project sponsored and installed by Sonlight Power, an Ohio based non-profit that provides renewable electricity to communities worldwide. This was their first project in the United States.

Campton’s pastor, Gary Conner, sees this project as a “way to invest in the community,” he said.

The three basic ways he sees the solar panels impacting the church and community are through educational opportunities, sending a message that conservation is important and financial savings for the church.

Conner hopes that the solar panels will contribute to the educational opportunities in the community by science classes taking the opportunity to study and learn about solar energy and observing it firsthand at Campton Baptist. Additionally, he relishes the opportunity to explain the system and show the panels to “anyone who wants to come by.”

He also is excited to engage the community by sending a message that Campton Baptist takes conservation seriously.

“We are trying to harness the power from the sun that God has already given us and to use that wisely, and perhaps it would be something that out of curiosity people would come and check out,” he said.

Finally, the church desires to not only save on their utility bill, but also to be able to put those savings back into missions and ministry.

The idea for the panels was brought to the church’s attention by a longtime church member.

“We want our community to know that we love them, and that we love this earth and  we want to take good care of it,” Zach Collier, a deacon at Campton, said in a WKYT interview.

“While we remember times past fondly,” Collier continued, speaking on behalf of the 121-year-old church, “we’re looking to the future with this project. Renewable energy will be part of our future.”

The system that generates 22,000 watts of power will aid the surrounding community as well. When the church is not using the power, the solar energy will go back into the grid. Over the course of 40 years, the church expects to save $120,000 with this new system. They plan to install a geothermal unit for heating and air conditioning in the future.

“Generations of families here at Campton Baptist Church will have zero carbon footprint,” Collier added.

In addition, the church hopes that by spreading awareness of the use of solar power, more of the generally coal-powered community will take notice and eventually jobs in solar power will be created in the area.

“It takes people to make solar panels, it takes people to know how to install solar panels and to maintenance them, so anything you do is going to generate revenue in terms of energy because people are always going to need it, and we’re definitely going to need more of it in the future than less of it,” Collier told WYMT.

Conner added that the church wants to do anything they can to be good stewards.

“God calls us to be good stewards of what He has created. When we take raw materials, and use them to help aid the creation, we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

“If we can bring in solar power as opposed to just filling cities and the atmosphere with extra carbon and things that might be harmful, we’re reducing that,” Conner said. “The more we use wind power, solar power, and things like that, it provides a way to reduce as much of that as we can.” (WR)

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