AUSTIN (KXAN) — A church in West Austin could soon be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars with a switch to solar panels.
On the roof of Riverbend Church, there are now more than 550 SunPower solar panels.
Throughout its Sunday services, this efficient energy is being used in full force.
Senior pastor Dave Haney says some of the extra energy being produced is pushed onto the electric grid.
“It’s like, we have a farm and we grow food,” he said. “We use the food and what we have left over to give back to the City of Austin.”
The power produced on-site at Riverbend Church will offset 60% of the usage within the 2,600-seat main auditorium.
“This is the kind of building that doesn’t have daily use,” Haney said. “So, we’re producing electricity when we’re not using electricity.”
The church partnered with Austin-based company Freedom Solar Power, to install solar panels to power their 50+ acre campus.
According to Freedom Solar Power commercial sales director Kyle Frazier, this installation makes Riverbend one of the first church communities in Austin to switch to solar.
“It’s producing energy all week long and then on Sundays when the air conditioning is cranking and the lights are up, they’re able to consume that energy,” he explained.
Austin Energy covered a third of the installation cost, part of a citywide program aimed to encourage nonprofits to go green.
The public utility predicts that this installation could save the church $750,000 over the next 25 years.
“The cost is offset because of the electricity we produce,” Haney said. “In the long run, we’re saving.”
As solar energy becomes more affordable and accessible, Riverbend Church is embracing change.
“They are making a decision to invest in the future of this congregation,” Frazier concluded. “That’s exciting and motivating to us.”
Riverbend’s solar system will also keep 210 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually. That’s the equivalent of 84 cross-country flights and 21,000 Austin commutes.