Thanks to a grant, local houses of worship will turn to the sun for electricity

Some Salem area worship centers will get solar panels thanks to a grant. (Courtesy/Portland General Electric)

A group of Salem worship centers are about to become a lot greener.

Temple Beth Sholom and Open Door Churches, a group of Methodist churches in the Salem area, are getting solar panels, thanks in part to a grant from Portland General Electric.

David Cox, a member of Open Door Churches, said six buildings are getting solar panels that will generate 157 kilowatts of capacity. He’s hoping it will generate enough power to supply 60% of the churches’ energy.

Cox said members of the group of Methodist churches wanted to make a statement about their concern for the environment and the community by installing the panels.

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He hopes one of the takeaways of the project, which is slated to start in the spring, is “that you’re not just powerless. You don’t have to depend on others; you can do something yourself.”

Cox said they’ve been working on the solar project, which is expected to cost $360,000, for more than a year. The churches received $100,000 in grant money from PGE.

“We spent a long time worried and concerned that other people weren’t doing enough. Well, if other people aren’t doing enough, what are we doing?” Cox said.

Cox said future stored power can be used in an emergency, like if the power was shut off.

Temple Beth Sholom will also be able to generate power in the case of outages.

The temple is adding 36 kilowatts of solar capacity from panels installed on top of a carport.

Solar panels will cover all the center’s electricity use and there are plans to add an electric vehicle charging station in the future.

PGE has helped more than 60 community organizations develop clean energy projects through $14 million in grants.

PGE has the largest renewable program participation of any United States electric utility, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.