Grinnell UMC goes Solar

Grinnell UMC goes Solar
The Grinnell UMC solar array installation was in full swing the first week of July.

July 14, 2023

Submitted by Monique Shore

Building on a strong history of environmental stewardship, the Grinnell United Methodist Church is going solar.  Installation of a 54kW solar array began the first week in July. 

The installed system consists of 120 bifacial 450-watt panels on the flat roof to the west of the original sanctuary at the corner of 5th and Park in Grinnell. The projected annual energy production is over 67,000 kWh and should provide more than half of the energy used by the church.

Grinnell UMC has implemented a variety of green initiatives over the years. A geothermal system for heating and cooling was installed throughout the building in 1999, moving the building into the realm of 100% electric. Lighting has been updated as technology has evolved to ensure the highest efficiency lights are used throughout the building.  These improvements have kept the electricity bill for the church relatively low for a building of its size, averaging around $1500/month in 2022. Projections for the new solar array should cover more than half of the current power bill, offering significant savings for decades to come. 

The total cost of the installed system is just under $154,000 and was covered by a combination of targeted gifts, memorial funds, and a contribution from the existing church Foundation. The 25-year projection is a savings of $308,000. The reduction in the monthly church electric bill will provide ongoing budgetary relief and free up funds to be used for other ministry needs. 

This solar array is a manifestation of a commitment to creation care by the Grinnell UMC congregation. It is one of the many ways that the congregation seeks to be proactive in living out its priorities. The church hosts a weekly community meal every Thursday at 5:30, living out a desire to provide food and fellowship to anyone interested with no strings attached. The congregation recently affirmed its commitment to being a safe and welcoming space for all by voting to allow same-sex weddings, as now allowed by the Iowa Conference of the UMC, as the worldwide UMC denomination works through changes related to LGBTQ issues. 

Grinnell UMC holds two services every Sunday at 8 am and 10:30 am. All are welcome and invited to join in fellowship time between services at 9 am. During the summer, programming for children is offered during the 10:30 service. Sunday School for all ages will resume between services after Labor Day. To learn more, visit the church website at or contact the church office at 641-236-3757.

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