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Grant Will Help Churches Buy Solar Panels

A $150,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development will go to six churches, four of them in Bloomington. The Bloomington parishes organized under a single banner, calling themselves Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (H-IPL). H-IPL Vice Chair of the Board, Madi Hirschland says each congregation will receive $25,000 dollars.

"It’s a good investment," Hirschland says. "So we’re putting some savings in, and all together it will cover starting now about 40%, hopefully even more. We’ll be cutting our electricity use so hopefully it will be well above 50 percent," she says.

For St. Thomas Lutheran Church, it’s an extension of an ongoing effort to reduce energy consumption. Reverend Lyle McKee says the church had turned down its thermostats, and now uses LED lights and zone heating and cooling – creating about a 40% savings. McKee says with the solar panels installed, that number could increase to 60 percent.

"Even in the sanctuary here we’ve learned that organs and pianos don’t really need the higher heat," says McKee. "The first several years I was here we were keeping this huge envelope of space at between 68-72 degrees at all times," he adds.

The churches are expected to have all the solar panels installed in early March.

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