Kent United Methodist Church is the recipient of a $102,000 competitive grant from Puget Sound Energy to fully fund the installation of a solar panel system. This project, which is being spearheaded by the congregation’s Creation Care Team, is part of the church’s overall emphasis on saving energy and reducing emissions from the church building. The team is leading the congregation in responding individually and as a church to care for God’s creation and help the environment.
In April 2021, several agencies of the national United Methodist Church pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the organizations/ ministries, facilities, operations, and investments by 2050. They acknowledged that the UMC “has long affirmed our individual and collective responsibility to address the unfolding climate crisis.” In light of these values, the UMC said it was “called by our faith, informed by science, and led by our relationships with impacted communities” to respond urgently.
According to Jim Head-Corliss, lead pastor at Kent UMC, “this grant will help us to take a next step in our transition to renewable energy while partnering with PSE to further educate our congregation, our wider community, United Methodist Churches in the Pacific Northwest and across our country. We look forward to sharing the positive benefits of renewable energy with a diverse range of faith communities in the greater Kent area.”
Puget Sound Energy is committed to supporting organizations that serve families and individuals in its communities. In this round, the company, through its Green Power and Solar Choice programs, has awarded over $900,000 in total grant funding to local organizations in its electric service area to install new solar projects. The grant, funded by PSE’s Green Power and Solar Choice customers, brings local solar projects to PSE’s electric service area while providing support to grant recipients through lower utility bills for low-income or Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and the organizations that serve them.
Kent, Washington has been named among the Top 10 most ethnically diverse cities in America and Kent UMC has a strong history of supporting the local community. For over 20 years, the congregation’s Shared Bread program has assisted Kent residents with rent, water, and PSE bills. In 2021, over $70,000 was distributed through this ministry. Other programs supported by the church include Kent HOPE (emergency shelter for women and children), Catholic Community Services, NW Trinity Mobility Project, Kent-Meridian Hub, Atlantic Street Center, Church World Service Crop Walk, Kent Food Bank, Pediatric Interim Care Center, St. Stephen’s Housing Association (transitional housing), and a car camping program in the church’s parking lot.
The design and installation of the project will be completed by MAD Energy NW of Auburn, Washington, an organization that specializes in solar projects and certified Net Zero solar arrays. Once installed, the system is expected to produce over 41,000-kilowatt hours per year, saving the church significant money on electricity bills. The church will use all the solar energy it generates first. Any extra generation will be banked to draw from when the church is consuming more energy than generating.
The congregation is committed to reducing their impact on the earth’s resources and has made a number of positive improvements, including double-paned windows, LED lights, heat pumps, WiFi thermostat for the church’s large sanctuary, timers on electric heaters, and recycling and composting programs. Additionally, the congregation hosts recycling events for the City of Kent in the church parking lot and has adopted their street for regular clean-up. As a recipient of the grant, they are aligned with PSE to solve several challenges at once: the installation of solar panels to support the expansion of cleaner energy and a healthier environment, lowering energy-related operating costs at the property, and making the push to a more inclusive clean energy future.