Shortly after receiving a Central CERT Seed Grant, the Lutheran Church of the Cross (LCC) in Nisswa, MN installed a 7.56 kW ground-mounted photovoltaic system. This system not only saves the church 10% on their electricity costs, but also educated their youth and demonstrated the benefits of renewable energy to their community to ensure environmental stability and sustainability.
After five years of planning, this renewable energy project was completed in May 2016 and was designed and installed by RREAL (Rural Renewable Energy Alliance). The project was led by LCC’s Creation Care Team to meet the church’s eco-spirituality mission to lead by example in sustainability efforts. Their primary goal was to educate and demonstrate energy-efficiency and renewable energy technology to their congregation of 1,500 members, youth, and the regional community.
For the church community, this project has been a source of pride. The renewable energy system is highly visible to all who attend and a popular source of conversation. On top of impacting the Nisswa community, the church is also located in a tourist area with many seasonal visitors who attend church or other community activities at the church, making LCC a great place to help expand further sustainability efforts.
“Receiving the CERTs grant showed the congregation there was strong support outside the congregation and gave the project credibility in the eyes of the congregation and the community,” said Craig Fink, one of project leaders.
After just two months, there is already talk of possible expansion of the solar array and two additional churches nearby have inquired about the project and asked for assistance implementing similar projects at their facilities. Energy efficiency was also a component of the ninth grade curriculum, which involved using the solar array as an example of creation care and stewardship.
To further educate the community about solar energy, the LCC project, and other earth care activities, an EarthCare Fair was held on June 18, 2016. Over 200 people attended and it included booths, youth and family activities, demonstrations, presentations by experts, and explanations of how LCC’s new solar array functions. Sarah Hayden Shaw, Central CERT Coordinator, also gave a presentation on solar energy and other CERTs activities.
“Sarah was very supportive, attending the project open house and participating in the EarthCare Fair. We anticipate turning to Sarah as a future resource,” Fink said.
The fair was widely publicized in many regional newspapers, radio, church bulletins, signage, and flyers posted around the Nisswa region. The LCC Creation Care Committee hopes this fair will springboard larger, ecumenical EarthCare Fairs to come! See news stories about the project below.
- Lakeland Public Television
Solar Panel Installation at Lutheran Church of the Cross In Nisswa
- Brainerd Dispatch
Caring for creation: Nisswa church installs solar panels
- Pine and Lakes Echo Journal
Lutheran Church of the Cross installs solar panels
- Project: 7.56 kW Ground-Mount Photovoltaic System
- Location: Nisswa, MN
- Activity: Implementation, Outreach
- Technology: Solar PV
- Benefits: Reduce congregations’ electricity costs by 10% and carbon footprint and to educate and demonstrate renewable energy technology to the congregation, youth and regional community.
- Total Project Cost: $39,000
- Central CERT Seed Grant: $5,900
- Annual Energy Generation: 9,615 kWh
- People Involved: 50
- People Reached: At least 6,000
CERTs awards seed grants to community groups for energy efficiency and clean energy projects across Minnesota. We’ve awarded over $1 million in Seed Grants since 2006. Click here to see more Seed Grant blog posts or click here to see more past funded projects.