Solar array at Kingston church could serve 250 homes
Daily Freeman News — By William J. Kemble
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> RUPCO and St. Clara’s Church of God in Christ have won city Planning Board approval to construct a solar electric array on a site of about 6 acres behind Point of Praise Church at 243 Hurley Ave.
At a meeting Monday, the board approved a site plan for a 1,555-kilowatt solar electric system on the church property, which is owned by St. Clara’s. Jeff Irish, president of the firm Hudson Solar, said the project should serve about 250 residential customers.
“This will be under New York’s Community Distributed Generation program,” he said. “We’re looking primarily at the purchase model where people would actually be able to purchase solar modules in the system. These are people who would like to have solar on their rooftops but they’re surrounded by trees, or they have small roofs.”
Irish, who estimated the project cost at between $3 million and $4 million, said part of the program will work with low- and moderate-income residents.
“Low and moderate income people are trying to get through winter,” he said. “They are worried about their food bills, their medicine bills, their heat and their energy. We’re not a solar company that can help with the food or the medicine, but we can generate electricity from the sun to eliminate a good portion of their electric bill.”
The Rev. James Childs Jr., pastor of Pointe of Praise, said the project is possible because goals of the church and RUPCO are similar in seeking to help people with income struggles.
“The thinking was incredibly similar as we began to think about how we could do this community generated distribution of solar that would obviously be green, would have the capacity to actually help people out in a way that most people don’t think about,” he said. “If you can reduce people’s monthly costs … it really helps us to holistically impact people that we interact with, not only from our church, but in the community.”
Childs said church members have been looking for ways to get community value from their 17-acre property.
“We’ve been thinking for years how we could leverage it to expand ministry, to reduce costs so that we can do further ministry, and the idea of solar came up,” he said.
“The Pointe has always been a very community-driven organization, whether it’s visitation of the sick or handing food out or youth programming, that’s been our mission,” Childs said. “Our church is 84 years old and the last 50 years has been very significant in terms of our penetration of the community. This works along with that very well.”