Eastern Kentucky church receives new solar power system

Published: Aug. 13, 2017 at 7:07 PM EDT
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A 121-year-old church on the edge of coal country is harnessing the sun's energy in an effort to move into the future.

This week, Campton Baptist Church in Wolfe County, became one of the first church's nationwide to switch to solar energy. The 80 solar panels will not only provide electricity for the church but for others in the community too.

"We will be actually generating electricity for our neighbors to use as well, when we're not using it, it'll go back into the grid to power whatever," said Zach Collier, Deacon, Campton Baptist Church.

The panels will generate 22,000 watts of power, which is estimated to save the church about $120,000 over the span of 40 years.

Collier said he hopes the solar panels will benefit the church long into the future, "Generations of families here at Campton Baptist Church will have zero carbon footprint."

And while coal is the way of the mountains, Collier said he hopes the panels will increase interest in renewable energy and possibly bring renewable energy careers to Eastern Kentucky.

"It takes people to make solar panels, it takes people to know how to install solar panels and to maintenance them, so anything you do is going to generate revenue in terms of energy because people are always going to need it and we're definitely going to need more of it in the future than less of it," Collier said.

Collier said Campton Baptist also plans to install a geothermal unit for their heating and air conditioning.

The solar panels at Campton Baptist were installed free of charge through a nonprofit organization, Sonlight Power. Sonlight Power typically provides solar energy to countries, such as Haiti, that need off grid systems. This was the organization's first installation in the United States.