Just over a year ago the St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Smithtown started kicking around the idea of installing a new roof. At the time, a young female member saw the project as an opportunity to install solar panels as well. Hearing the idea, Bob Reimertz, vestry member and the head of building and grounds for the church, had an all to familiar reaction to going solar.
“I said to myself, ‘you got to be kidding me. That’s like 60,000 dollars,’” recalled Mr. Reimertz. “Then I started doing research. The more research I did, finding out about the rebates, I said, ‘we can do this and never pay electric again.’”
With Mr. Reimertz’s legwork, and funding from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, St. Thomas of Canterbury took action on never paying for electric again with the installation of a 48-panel, 10,000 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the south side of the church. After more than a week of dealing with foul weather, the panels were raised to the roof Wednesday, April 5.
“This is a fantastic thing for our church, for Smithtown, and for the surrounding community,” Mr. Reimertz said. “I figured out that the amount of energy in one year’s time we will save equals the amount of fumes a car emits after driving 12,000 miles.”
According to Mr. Reimertz, the project cost a little over $55,000, just about half of which ($27,500) is covered by a Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) solar rebate. Currently, LIPA offers rebates of $1.75 per kilowatt up to 10,000 kilowatts through its solar pioneer program. Since churches are exempt from state and federal taxes and not eligible for solar project tax rebates, St. Thomas of Canterbury received an enhanced rebate rate from LIPA of $2.75 per kilowatt.