We Praise You for the Sun

 on March 28, 2024

I have always had an interest in environmental protection and social justice. I joined Climate Justice Niagara (CJN) in 2022 in order to learn more about the impact of increasing carbon dioxide emissions on our planet and the ways in which we can lower our personal impact. The mandate of CJN is to equip the leaders and people of the diocese to live more deeply into the Fifth Mark of Mission and our diocesan Mission Action Plan within our parishes, homes, and communities and to be strong advocates for local and global change.

In early 2023, I started to investigate the installation of solar panels on my home as a way to reduce my carbon footprint. I was fortunate that I knew someone who had recently installed solar panels and found his contractor had the most favourable cost estimate. In order to obtain the government grant for solar panels I needed to have an energy audit on my home and was pleased to discover that my home was almost as energy efficient as a new build; my efforts to insulate and conserve energy paid off.

My solar panel contractor arranged for the necessary contract with Alectra Utilities and the panels were installed in July, 2023. The electricity generated by solar panels is direct current and requires an inverter to convert the power to alternating current. The inverter my contractor installed is from Solar Edge and this device is connected to my modem allowing me to see the activity of my panels at any time. On my mobile phone I can view my electricity generation at the current time, daily rates, monthly and annually and also see the real time generation of each of my individual 16 panels. The app also gives an estimate of the environmental benefits of my energy generation in the form of CO2 emissions saved and an equivalent number of trees planted. Electricity generated by the solar panels goes into the Alectra grid and my meter records this. In the sunny summer months my electricity plus water bills were either a credit or a small amount as my generated electricity paid for both my water and electricity usage. The last few months have been unusually cloudy, so I expect that my bills will be similar to last winter. The maximum government grant for solar panels is $5,000, together with the $600 cost of the energy audit. This grant reduced the cost of the panels to $14,000 and the post-solar panel installation reduced my carbon footprint to below that of a new home. If I install a heat pump to replace my air conditioner and gas furnace my home will be net zero.

My future plans to do my part to fight climate change include installing a heat pump and electric water heater in my home, reducing my driving as much as possible, not flying or taking cruises, growing more vegetables in my garden and moving my savings from my bank to a credit union. The latter move is because big banks fund fossil fuel companies and do not fund green energy initiatives similarly. I will also continue to advocate against the building of new highways in Ontario, such as Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, which are unnecessary and expensive and which will impact environmentally sensitive areas and agricultural lands, including many acres within Ontario’s Greenbelt.

I pray that God give us all the will and courage to simplify the way we live, to reduce the energy we use, to share the resources He provides and to be willingly to bear the cost of change.

April 21st is Climate Justice Sunday across the diocese. To learn more, visit niagaraanglican.ca/climatejustice.


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