This past spring the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens installed 162 solar panels on the roof of its building at 780 Timothy Road. Each panel can produce up to 315 watts DC (direct current) of electricity and together can generate 51 kilowatts (51,000 watts).
Since going online June 5, the panels have generated an average of 245 kilowatt-hours during the day, or a total of more than 10 megawatt-hours of electricity. On most days of the year the output is more than enough to fully power the Fellowship’s 14,275-square-foot building.
In July of 2019, average daily energy use for the building was about 325 kilowatt-hours. According to Solar Edge, a web site that tracks the solar production, the solar energy produced in just the first six weeks after installation prevented the release of 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and was equivalent to planting 121 trees.
The panels are expected to meet about three quarters of the building’s electricity requirements during the summer and produce more than needed the rest of the year. The excess electricity will be sold to Georgia Power and revenue from those sales, plus savings from reduced consumption, should enable the Fellowship to significantly cut its annual electricity bill of about $10,000.
“The solar panels help us protect natural resources and enhance the environment, which are core values of Unitarian Universalism,” said Lyndall Tunnell, a retired engineer and member of the Fellowship’s board of trustees, who coordinated the project. “The financial benefits are also welcome, of course, so this is a great win-win for our Fellowship and the Athens community.”
Tunnell thanked Solar Sun World, a local company that installed the panels, for its efficient work, and members of the Fellowship for their enthusiastic support.
The panels are expected to last well over 25 years. That should provide more than enough cost savings to offset the cost of the project, which was covered by a donation from a couple in the Fellowship.