Zoar Lutheran Church sits in a beautiful and unspoiled perch on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Tofte, MN. The congregation started with the idea of reducing its carbon footprint. That goal has now evolved into a solar energy project that will cover a large percentage of the church’s energy use, and also help heat a small school in Peru.
With the help of All Energy Solar, Zoar Lutheran Church is installing an array of 16-22 solar panels on the roof of the parsonage. They are also working with Joe Sanders, owner of the nearby Tofte General Store, as a business partner. Sanders and the General Store can take advantage of the federal tax credit, something the church could not do on its own as a nonprofit entity.
“I believe these projects are ways we can care for God’s creation, care for our less fortunate, far-away neighbors, help manufacturing and business in our region, and give the gift of energy independence to future generations,” said Pastor Daren Blanck.
Zoar is raising money to help install solar at a school in Chinchillapy, a small community in Peru’s Pumo Province, some 16,000 feet above sea level. The indigenous people are of the Quechau descent who herd alpaca and sheep. From June to August, temperatures fall well below zero and strong winds make frostbite a danger. With no electricity or running water, and wood in scarce supply due to deforestation, the community is in need of help.
“We expect to pay about $10,100 over seven years, including the value of the electricity generated for a system sized to provide about 65 percent of the electrical needs of the church. For an extra $4,200 we can install a system that will generate 85 percent or more of our electrical needs, making the system even more cost-effective over time,” said Blanck.