Solar panels to be installed at St. Thomas the Apostle in Overland Park

by The Rev. Canon Gar Demo

Responding to Bishop Cathleen’s call to be better stewards of creation, St. Thomas will install a full array of solar panels this summer. 

In 2010 St. Thomas established a goal of improving its carbon footprint whenever opportunities arose. In the beginning, this included changing lights to be efficient, improving HVAC systems, etc. When our new parish hall was planned in 2012, the vestry directed that the building project be as energy-efficient as possible. We encountered some costs that limited some improvements as older equipment was often difficult to replace. 

Design image from Sun Solar shows how solar panels will look once installed.

Although our building is efficient, we still use a large amount of energy. In the spring of 2021, an anonymous donor offered to fund a solar array for St. Thomas as a long-term capital improvement. The donor became excited about the impact on the environment and the financial impact on the congregation with reduced utility costs. 

After meeting with multiple solar panel installers, St. Thomas selected Sun Solar out of Missouri. The system will utilize the latest technology available and be net-metered with Evergy. Net-metering means that the energy produced by the panels will reverse our electric meter, and St. Thomas will receive credit for the power produced over its usage. The system’s power capacity will be 75.2 kilo-watts with a ballasted system, utilizing Solaredge panels. Since we have a net-metering agreement with Evergy, we will not need battery storage on site. The complete system with all costs included will be $150,000. It is predicted to generate nearly 103,000 kWh per year and save St Thomas between $10-12k per year in utility costs. 

We will also be transitioning all of our lights to LED. This will reduce that portion of our power consumption by nearly 90%. We expect to be carbon neutral with these additional changes to our physical plant.

While indirectly related to evangelism, St. Thomas hopes that many will see this as the embodiment of living out our call to care for creation. The project is expected to be completed by mid-June of 2022.

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