Calvary Lutheran goes to the top

RAPID RIVER – There’s an old saying, “One hand washes the other.”

It will be a two-way benefit for the Calvary Lutheran Church in Rapid River and U.P. Power Company now that the church has installed a solar-electric system. What electricity the church doesn’t use will be sold back to UPCO.

According to church pastor, Steve Gauger, the total output of the new system is 11,000 watts – more than enough to provide all of the church’s electrical needs.

“Our average monthly usage is 7 or 6 (thousand) and it will certainly take care of all of our needs,” Pastor Gauger said. “We have two-way metering and if there are extended periods with no sun, we can use power from UPCO and if we have any left over during peak times, it will feed right back into the power grid here in Rapid River and UPCO will buy it from us.”

All the installation work was provided by members of Calvary and the added benefit of having a engineer, electrician and owner of an energy provider as members helped the congregation realize even more savings – perhaps as much as half – than if they had to have a professional company do the work.

The panels will heat the church’s fellowship hall as well as the attached sanctuary.

Pastor Gauger said the savings from the solar-electric system will be substantial.

“Our electric bills averaged between $250 and $300 during the winter months,” he said. “The new system will help eliminate that cost.”

It’s Pastor Gauger’s belief that Calvary’s new solar-electric system is the only one of its kind in the Upper Peninsula.

“There’s another church locally that is looking into it,” he said. “Personally I think it’s a good idea if a church is able to do it.”