Saline is a small town in Michigan, just under 9,000 people. As the name might suggest, it is the site of a natural salt source used by Native Americans, later explorers and traders. Today the big industry there is auto parts, but the University of Michigan provides many jobs there as well.
The First Presbyterian Church of Saline has covered much of their roof with a big solar array capable of covering well over half of their electricity needs.
In early August, a 15 kilowatt, 56-panel system was installed… Officials recently received their first utility bill from DTE, which showed more than a 70 percent savings, said Chip Manchester, founding member of the church’s Environmental Stewardship group.
During the September billing period, the panels generated 2,160 kilowatt hours, which is more than 70 percent of the energy needed to power the 2,800 square-foot building for the month. The electricity bill at the church went from $350 to $75, he said.
“It (the bill) was definitely a pleasant surprise, it’s one thing to have it promised but it’s another thing to have it realized,” said Kurt Leutheuser, finance elder with the church.
The $45,000 system is projected to fund about two thirds of the church’s electrical use throughout the year, last 25 years and pay for itself in 13 years. It was financed by the nearly 300-person congregation with the average contribution being close to $1,000, Manchester said.