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Faith-based organizations have always been pillars of support and change in communities. Today, they are championing a new cause: community solar.

In partnership with Montgomery County Green Bank (MCGB), these organizations are creating tangible outcomes with solar and community solar projects. They not only save on energy costs for their own organizations but are also able to lean into their deeper calling to help the broader community and protect the planet through environmental stewardship.

Shared core values with the Green Bank – namely, sustainability, community welfare, and innovation – are helping them lead the way for their communities.

What is community solar?

Community solar allows people to access solar energy through subscription, without having to install any equipment on their homes. It’s ideal for those who don’t have their own solar panels at home or are looking for additional solar power.

A solar panel setup is typically installed on a larger property or on communal land, also known as a ‘solar farm’. This setup is designed to generate more power than the property itself uses. The renewable energy is then made available to other properties via a subscription to the community solar program.

A key benefit of community solar is that the maintenance and ownership of the panels are the responsibility of a developer. This allows both the site hosting the solar installation and the subscribers to benefit from solar energy without the responsibility and cost of maintenance.

In line with this model, the Green Bank’s recent community solar projects on faith-based properties are third-party owned. This means that the faith-based organizations do not own their solar system; instead, they receive a roof lease payment for the use of their roof space.

Community solar is about sharing the benefits of solar power in a way that’s accessible and community-focused.

The impact of community solar in faith-based communities

The Green Bank’s recent solar and community solar projects with the Central Baptist Church, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Jewish Council for the Aging, and Warner Memorial Church illustrate the sustainable impact that solar can have on a community .

Positive outcomes for these communities include:

  1. Projected savings over 20 years: $123,800 for Central Baptist Church, $52,127 for Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, $166, 928  for the Jewish Council for the Aging, and $52,990 for Warner Memorial Church.
  2. Projected reduction in energy sourced from local utility providers over 20 years: 3,609,240 kWh for Central Baptist Church, 2,153,018 kWh for Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, 2,017,511 kWh for the Jewish Council for the Aging, and 1,570,035 kWh for Warner Memorial Church.
  3. Reduced energy costs, allowing these communities to allocate their savings toward other community programs and outreach.
  4. A significant decrease in carbon emissions – as much as 2,560 metric tons in 20 years. Using less electricity from fossil fuel sources helps reduce air, land, and water pollution, which is a powerful way to combat climate change and improve environmental stewardship.
  5. Feeding discounts from community solar subscription profits back to subscribers, enhancing the financial benefits.
  6. Inspiring their congregations and the broader community to adopt clean, sustainable energy practices.

Case Studies

Warner Memorial: Inclusive solar solutions

Warner Memorial, an Earth Care congregation, had often investigated switching to solar but faced obstacles like high costs and no tax incentives – common issues for faith communities and other non-profits. The turning point came with MCGB, which is able to help much smaller solar projects by providing them with affordable financing and connecting them to the right trusted partners.

Now, as a community solar site, Warner has reduced its own costs and is sharing these savings with its subscribers and broader community. They’ve been able to use the money from their lease payments to discount their subscribers’ electricity bills. Notably, they provide Housing Unlimited – a nonprofit supporting those overcoming homelessness – with a 44% cut in expenses for those subscriptions. The financial support from a commercial property like Warner to the residents of Housing Unlimited is extraordinary and has a significant impact. These two organizations had not previously met before Skyview Ventures, a Green Bank trusted partner, introduced them.

Reflecting on how the Green Bank made the project financially feasible, June Eakin, an elder at Warner, said, “Without the Green Bank, our vision wouldn’t have become a reality.” Eakin also noted that the Green Bank’s collaboration and support was key in navigating the installation. Read more here.

Central Baptist Church of Rockville: Benefits that help further ministry

Central Baptist’s journey towards solar energy was driven by Pastor Matthew Arney’s long-standing interest in energy efficiency. The success of this independent church’s community solar installation has allowed them to offer subscriptions to other organizations in the faith community, such as The Jewish Council for the Aging and Bradley Hill Presbyterian Church. Although both organizations have their own solar systems financed through MCGB, they lacked sufficient roof space to install enough solar panels to fully power their buildings – a common issue.  By adding community solar subscriptions through the Central Baptist project, both organizations are now closer to achieving 100% solar power.

Pastor Arney comments, “The Green Bank’s support made the project financially feasible and beneficial, not just in savings but in community impact as well…we can use the money that comes in on our roof, [and] produce income that we can turn around and use to further the ministry…that has been probably the best part for me.” Read more here.

Bridging the Financial Gap for Faith-Based Communities

The Green Bank’s role extends beyond merely providing financial solutions for congregations, businesses and non-profits. They actively guide their partners through the process, helping them understand the technicalities and parameters of the installation. Their approach ensures that every project, regardless of size, is given the attention and support it needs to succeed.

The partnership between these faith-based organizations and MCGB are a testament to how beliefs, values and collaboration can drive a positive, tangible impact. This collaborative spirit is also seen in MCGB’s close work with Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that helps communities adopt solar. (Access their resources on solar for faith communities here, including a map of existing communities with solar.)

By bridging the financial gap for financing green energy projects, the Green Bank is helping faith-based communities make a lasting impact in the Montgomery County community and the environment.

For more information, contact Cindy McCabe, Director of Renewable Energy at