Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

A Sunday blessing of a different sort… praying to the sun gods

By kbender
Sunday, June 8th, 2008 at 5:53 pm in Uncategorized.



The new solar panels at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley were blessed on Sunday. The church has always been a little ahead of its time, as one of the first area churches to start podcasting its’ sermons on the Internet more than three years ago.


But these days their focus is on green technology.


The church (which is actually in Kensington) financed the purchase of the 50-kilowatt solar energy system with a $463,000 loan form its’ endowment but is expecting to get a $131,000 rebate from the state government through PG&E, church officials tell me.


Church members also pitched in more than $100,000 to cover costs.


With the new system, the church expects to reduce its annual power costs to near zero, church officials say.


They might need some serious help from the sun gods to do that.

To start things off right, Revs. Barbara Hamilton-Holway, Bill Hamilton-Holway, and Chris Holton Jablonski, blessed the 336 panels on Sunday. Then there was music and food and electric car demonstrations and other fun stuff.


UUCB is not the only Bay Area religious institution to look to the heavens for help with electrity bills. St. Paul ‘s Episcopal Church in  Walnut Creek Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, the San Francisco Zen Center, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County, the  San Francisco Theological Seminary, St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette, and Christ Church Lutheran in Fremont have also gone solar.


There’s a reason for that.


Churches and other non-profits have a financial incentive to do it now because money available for the state-sponsored rebates is on the decline. This news comes from Jessica Brown, outreach director for California Interfaith Power and Light (http:// www.interfaithpower.org), a statewide faith-based ministry that promotes  energy conservation and renewable energy in the faith community.


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