Wind will power congregation’s building

A small congregation in Minnesota will soon provide most of its own power with its own wind turbine. The 58-member Nora Unitarian Universalist Church, a rural congregation in southcentral Minnesota, will receive a $20,000 federal grant to help pay for the $94,000-project.

Surplus power will be sold back to the local utility company. The congregation’s social justice committee began exploring alternative energy projects several years ago and settled on wind power. It expects to recover the cost of the project in 11 years.

The turbine will have 31-foot fiberglass blades on a 120-foot tower. Groundbreaking was to be November 21.

Energy conservation help available

The Towson Unitarian Universalist Church in Lutherville, Md., dramatically reduced its energy use by taking steps that included sealing windows and replacing doors and light bulbs.

As a result it won the Interfaith Power and Light’s annual Cool Congregation contest, including a prize of $5,000, for the highest reduction in energy use. Said Carol Hedlund, chair of the church’s Green Sanctuary committee, “Our actions focused on three areas: energy efficiency of our building, educating our members on ways they could make changes in their own lives to reduce their individual footprints, and participating in energy efficiency community projects.”

The contest started with the congregation computing its carbon footprint, then working over a year to reduce it. Hedlund estimates the congregation reduced air leakage in its building by 67 percent and improved its heating and cooling capacity by 25 percent. It reduced its total carbon footprint by almost 20 percent.

Interfaith Power and Light, which has affiliate groups in 34 states, has issued a “10% Challenge” for congregations wishing to follow in the footsteps of Towson UU Church in reducing their total carbon footprint by 10 percent or more. The mission of Interfaith Power and Light is to assist congregations with energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy information. To learn more visit interfaithpowerandlight.org.