Neighbors put ‘Blue Sky’ to use for solar panels on church


Solar panels supported by Pacific Power 'Blue Sky' customers

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There are now 67 new solar panels sitting on top of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in the heart of Portland’s Hollywood District. And it happened because of the surrounding community.

The neighbors in that area volunteered to pay a little more on their monthly electric bill with Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program.

“These are neighbors supporting neighbors,” said Pacific Power’s Bob Gravely. “This grant does not come from the company. This grant comes from customers. It’s the local residents, it’s the neighborhood bookshop, it’s the larger business customers who chose to pay a little extra, and then that supports projects like this.”

The “Burrito Love” event organized by St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland (Undated courtesy photo)

Gravely told KOIN 6 News about 1-in-4 Pacific Power customers participate in the Blue Sky program, now in its 20th year. They pay an extra $5 to $10 a month on their bill. Customers can choose to support renewable energy that feeds the grid or it can go to support specific projects like the on at St. Michael.

Rev. Chris Craun said they will save 40% to 50% on their electric bill as a result of the solar panels.

“We had some very resilient members of our church who went after this grant,” Rev. Craun said. “From those savings we get to continue to do the work of the church, which for us involves feeding ministries and immigrant rights work and helping people in the community. So this program matches us in a lot of ways. It reminds us that we are benefitting from the community investing in this program, and then we get to invest in the community.”

That includes their “Burrito Love” events, where they pass out burritos to people who are hungry. Rev. Craun said this program is letting the church live its values and take care of creation.

“Even if you can’t have solar panels in your own house, you can invest in the possibility for it to happen in other places to see we are beginning to breathe better as a whole community here.”

Volunteers at a tree planting organized by St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland (Undated courtesy photo)

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