Solar power: church to aid community & lower costs

by Myriah Snyder/Kentucky Western Recorder, posted Friday, August 18, 2017 (one year ago)

CAMPTON, Ky. (BP) -- A Kentucky church is embracing solar power as a means to help the community and reduce their carbon footprint.

Campton Baptist Church is embracing solar power as a means to help its community in eastern Kentucky, reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.
Campton Baptist Church, part of the Red River Baptist Association, has installed 80 solar panels on the roof of the church, a project sponsored and installed by SonLight Power, an Ohio-based nonprofit that provides renewable electricity to communities worldwide. This was their first project in the United States.

Campton's pastor, Gary Conner, sees the project as a "way to invest in the community."

The three basic ways he sees the solar panels impacting the community and the church are through educational opportunities; sending a message that conservation is important; and financial savings for the congregation.

Conner hopes the solar panels will contribute to educational opportunities in the community for science classes to take the opportunity to learn about solar energy and observe it firsthand at Campton Baptist. Additionally, he relishes the opportunity to explain the system and show the panels to "anyone who wants to come by."

He also is excited to engage the eastern Kentucky community by sending a message that Campton Baptist takes conservation seriously.

"We are trying to harness the power from the sun that God has already given us and to use that wisely, and perhaps it would be something that out of curiosity people would come and check out," he said.

Finally, the church desires not only to save on their utility bill, but also put those savings into missions and ministry.

The idea for the panels was brought to the church's attention by a longtime church member, Zach Collier.

"We want our community to know that we love them, and that we love this earth and we want to take good care of it," Collier, a deacon at Campton, said in a WKYT interview.

"While we remember times past fondly," Collier said, speaking on behalf of the 121-year-old church, "we're looking to the future with this project. Renewable energy will be part of our future."

The system, which generates 22,000 watts of power, will aid the surrounding community as well. When the church is not using the power, the solar energy will go back into the grid. Over the course of 40 years, the church expects a savings of $120,000. They plan to install a geothermal unit for heating and air conditioning in the future.

"Generations of families here at Campton Baptist Church will have zero carbon footprint," Collier said.

In addition, the church hopes that by spreading awareness of the use of solar power, more of the generally coal-powered community will take notice and eventually jobs in solar power will be created in the area.

"It takes people to make solar panels, it takes people to know how to install solar panels and to maintenance them, so anything you do is going to generate revenue in terms of energy because people are always going to need it, and we're definitely going to need more of it in the future than less of it," Collier told WYMT.

Conner added that the church wants to do anything they can to be good stewards.

"God calls us to be good stewards of what He has created. When we take raw materials and use them to help aid the creation, we're doing what we're supposed to do," he said.

Renewable energy such as solar and wind power, Conner said, are key avenues of conservation versus "filling cities and the atmosphere with extra carbon and things that might be harmful."

Myriah Snyder is assistant editor of the Western Recorder (, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
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