D.C. baptist church goes solar

The Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Northwest is now the first African-American church in the District to go solar. In a program supported by the EPA, the church christened its new ten kilowatt rooftop solar energy system Tuesday morning.

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The church’s pastor says environmental awareness is part of the Christian faith. “As Christians we honor God by taking care of the gift of his earth,” the Rev. Earl Trent said. “We don't have another earth, he's not making another one, so we've got to take care of the one he's given us.”

Volt Energy, a local company created using two Howard grants, installed the ten kilowatt electric solar panels, which will save the church 15-20 percent in energy costs.

“The cheapest energy is one that you don't use. So if we're able to be more conscious that's going to go a long way,” said Antonio Francis of Volt Energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started working with faith-based communities like this one, hoping to reach a broader audience.

“This isn't just about the environment in some movement, this is about everyday ways to make our lives healthier and cleaner and breaking out dependence on foreign oil,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

Jackson argues faith communities should take on leadership on this issue, as they have in the past. “One of the most important examples is the civil rights movement, which demonstrated the power of bringing together faith groups to work for change,” Jackson said.

Church leaders plan to hold classes teaching parishioners how to make their homes more energy efficient.

“A carbon footprint might not mean anything but a lower electric bill, that means something,” said Rev. Trent. They also plan to use the money saved through their own solar panels to install solar panels in third world countries like Haiti.

“You light a village, you put electricity in, you change their lives, that's what we're looking to do,” Rev. Trent said.

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