With all the solar activity going on in the Twin Cities lately, members of the Cherokee Park United Church (CPUC) on Baker Street in St Paul (http://www.cherokeeparkunited.org) began asking themselves and their pastor if there was any possibility of installing solar on their building. Not one to waste time, Pastor Tim Johnson immediately enlisted the help of his more active parishioners in the search for solar options. They had heard about all the great state and utility incentives available in Minnesota. Word on the street was solar systems were routinely going in with 90% or more of the costs covered by rebates. With a perfect south-facing roof that gets sun all year long, it seemed a cinch the church could sign up and bask in the glow of solar energy cutting their utility costs by up to 90%. But they soon discovered some depressing news: those appealing economics did not apply to nonprofits such as churches. The problem was nonprofits cannot collect federal rebates which account for 30% of the installed cost. That posed a serious problem.
Enter Team Sundial. After exploring many possibilities with various tax advisors and attorneys, we crafted a special lease-purchase program whereby Sundial has ownership interest in the solar system for a specified period of time allowing us to collect the federal rebates and apply them to the overall costs. Although more complex than a simple purchase, it allowed CPUC to install a fantastic new system that covered nearly all their south-facing roof. As one member of the church observed after all the papers had been signed “Praise God – We’re Going Solar!”.
The 21kW system is composed of high-quality Minnesota-made solar panels manufactured on the Iron Range by Silicon Energy (SE) (http://www.silicon-energy.com), reputed to be among the most durable panels on the planet. “It would never have been possible without the superior strength of the SE panels,” remarked Team Leader Tom Jandric. “We started the installation very concerned about the potential of breakage because there is no frame around the glass. But by the second day we realized it was not easy to break one. Halleluiah! It was a real bonus for us to be able to walk and stand atop the panels while installing them.”
It took about 4 weeks to design and install the system. “The record heat of this summer just killed us up there!,” remarked Wayne LaForge, Sundial’s General Manager. “We had to pull off by 1 or 2 in the afternoon – it just got too hot to work safely. And the steep roof pitch – about 50 degrees – did not help matters.” Despite the challenges, the Sundial team completed the installation on time and within budget. The system was commissioned on August 3, 2012. The dedication is scheduled for August 19th at 2:30pm and everyone is invited.