As far as we know, Hillcrest Mennonite Church, New Hamburg, Ont., is the first of MCCN’s 100 Shades of Green congregations to go solar. The church dedicated the project fall of 2010; the panels arrived in January 2011 and the system was connected to the grid on February 17.

The solar system that Hillcrest installed is a ground-mounted tracking unit, meaning that it can follow the sun throughout the day. It is pictured at right. The array is rated at 9.87 kilowatts and will produce enough power in a year (about 18,000 kWh) to provide for two average urban homes.

Rob Yost, the congregation’s green facilitator, says that the congregation should be able to pay off the system in just under ten years.

“We realize that we all must become aware of and responsible for the pollution created by our lifestyle,” Yost says. “We are hoping that this will help Ontario get rid of its coal-fired generation plants, and the associated smog created by them, by 2014, which is the current target. We are also trying to reduce our carbon foot print to help minimize the effects of global warming.”

At the dedication held fall of 2010, the congregation acknowledged that every project has negative impacts. Because they had to take down three trees to make room for the panels, they distributed pine seedlings to attendees to offset the trees that were sacrificed.