Rep. Chris Deluzio Joins PennEnvironment for Solar Church Tour at St. Paul’s – Environment America

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PennEnvironment joined Congressman Chris Deluzio, leaders from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon on Tax Day 2024 to tour the church’s rooftop solar array, and to use the event to highlight the significant tax breaks available to Pennsylvania businesses, residents, churches and non-profit groups in the federal Inflation Reduction Act. After weeks of intense rainfall caused the worst flooding in Pittsburgh in nearly two decades, our rooftop visit got a little help from above with one of the nicest days of the year so far.

A group of people stand talking next to a solar array on the roof of a church.

Zachary Barber | TPIN
“Mt. Lebanon Commissioner Andrew Flynn (left) discusses solar with (l-r) Jerry Rutledge , Brittany Reno, Congressman Deluzio, St. Paul’s Reverend Noah Evans, and PennEnvironment’s David Masur alongside the church’s extensive rooftop solar array.

Houses of worship are great candidates for rooftop solar panels. While people frequent these buildings much less during the week, their panels will still generate power that can be used by the community. And come worship services, congregations can benefit from the clean power and lower utility bills. 

Reverend Noah Evans estimates that on a bright April day like this, St. Paul’s can generate all of its energy needs from the sun—that’s a win for the planet and the church’s pocketbook. Some large congregations anticipate tens of thousands of dollars in savings. 

Beyond the financial and climate benefits, solar panels increase a community’s resilience during extreme weather events. Houses of worship play a significant role in supporting their neighbors and communities during extreme weather. That’s because solar panels and batteries can be independent from the grid, meaning the lights stay on during power outages–critical for houses of worship that provide shelter during emergencies or cooling centers during extreme heat days. 

And of course, by going solar, many congregations are living their values as stewards of the earth by doing their part to reduce air and water pollution and tackle climate change.

Congressman Deluzio and PennEnvironment's David Masur speak at a podium in a church

Congressman Deluzio and PennEnvironment's David Masur speak at a podium in a church
PennEnvironment’s David Masur speaks to the media about the benefits of going solar, while Congressman Deluzio looks on. Zachary Barber | TPIN

St. Paul’s rooftop solar array Zachary Barber | TPIN

That’s why it’s so exciting that nationwide, more than 1,250 houses of worship have installed solar panels. And with new federal incentives, more houses of worship are now poised to follow their lead.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022 marked a truly historic moment in the U.S. battle to mitigate climate change, with the single largest investment in clean energy and electrification in the nation’s history. With consumer rebates and tax credits available for solar energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and more, there are numerous ways for individuals and businesses to take advantage of these incredible programs. 

And for the first time, faith-based institutions and other tax-exempt entities like nonprofits can directly take advantage of these incentives too. Congressman Deluzio spoke about the exciting opportunities offered by the Inflation Reduction Act and encouraged non-profits and residents alike to seize the chance to go renewable.

Prior to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, places of worship and other nonprofits were unable to directly take advantage of federal tax credits to support the installation of solar panels. Now, 30% (or more) of the cost of a solar project and installation can be covered by direct pay tax credits from the federal government through 2032.

Congressman Deluizo talks with Reverend Evans and David Masur. Zachary Barber | TPIN

Reverend Noah Evans of St. Paul’s Episcopal speaks to media about his congregation’s decision to go solar. Zachary Barber | TPIN

PennEnvironment has also created a number of tools to help Pennsylvanians know how to tap into the financial benefits available through the Inflation Reduction Act, including the Clean Energy Home Toolkit, and “How your house of worship can go solar“.

With these new federal incentives, there’s never been a better time for houses of worship to get their power from above. So we hope houses of worship will follow the lead of Saint Paul’s to go solar too!

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