NC Interfaith Power & Light Director Susannah Tuttle delivered this statement at a press conference held at United Church of Chapel Hill on August 25.
Every faith tradition mandates care of creation and the moral call to address the issues and impacts of our changing climate. If we fail to address the most significant environmental threat to life and human civilization of our time and history, this would be a breach of our religious responsibilities.
Solar energy is one of the important “solutions” for addressing climate change, but it is tricky for nonprofit religious institutions because of the expense.
NC has wonderful tax incentives which along with the federal incentives have allowed solar projects, both small and large, to blossom in the tax-paying public and corporations, but it has taken time to develop models that will allow nonprofit religious institutions to utilize them.
We now have proven models, the LLC (like Community Church in Chapel Hill, and Highland United Methodist Church in Raleigh) and the individual-donor model (like United Church of Chapel Hill, Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, St. Eugene’s Catholic Church in Asheville, Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, and West Raleigh Presbyterian Church), along with donation models (the capital campaign at UCCH, crowd sourcing at Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh, and grant funding at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte) that additional congregations can use as models, if there is time.
Some models are able to use both federal and state tax credits (LLC model) but many more can only use the state tax credits (like UCCH) making them especially important!
Therefore an extension of the tax credits through 2017 would allow many more faith communities to put their “faith into action” on this most serious of moral and environmental challenges, benefiting from the ground work and models developed the trailblazer congregations represented here and on the NCIPL website.
Each week I am contacted by a new congregation with questions about installing solar. Faith communities across the state recognize that clean, renewable, solar energy is a critical component of creation care in the 21st Century.
Allowing the tax credits to expire will put the brakes on what is a building wave of interest and plans to do solar energy on houses of worship in North Carolina.
A story from the press conference was published in Triangle Business Journal on August. 26.