Sustainable Energy System

geothermal-designMembers Approved Plan November 6, 2016

At a Special Congregational Meeting held by the Board of Trustees on November 6, the members present voted unanimously to approve the motion brought by the Board to establish and fund a sustainable energy system for our building. Read the motion.

This is a historic decision, and one in which we can have great pride. We thank the donors and lenders, without whom this project would not be possible, and we thank all of you for your vision in helping to create a lasting legacy for First Universalist. Your generosity sustains our Beloved Community.

History and Authorship

With gratitude, we acknowledge the many who gave much time and incredible talent to develop this plan, thoroughly vet it, and explain how it could work. Starting in 2015, a core group of visionary church members began designing a solar and geothermal system for our church and crafting a financial plan to bring it to fruition. For several months in 2016, this group worked under the auspices of the Renewable Energy Working Group composed of members of the Board of Trustees, Building for the Future (BFF), Green First, two independent engineers from our congregation, and our Senior Minister Jeannie Shero to finalize the plan.

 Benefits of Sustainable Energy System

Substantial long-term cost savings

The church will have no energy bill after 15 years.  The church will also not be subject to rising carbon fuel prices, which experts estimate will increase 3-5% per year.  All church HVAC equipment will be replaced and not require costly repair or replacement in the near term.  Reserve funds for equipment/ building repair are not used. 

Member contributions have minimized investment impact

Church member donations have greatly reduced cost of the system to the church.  Loan repayment will be lower than current payments for Excel’s electricity and natural gas.

Eliminates risk of dependence on fossil fuels

In an unstable energy market, where long-term costs are likely to increase, we own our own energy production and become our own energy company.

Demonstrates our commitment to the 7th Principle

By acting now to do its part to address global climate change, First Universalist Church of Denver sets an example in the community and demonstrates that we do in fact live by the guiding principles of our faith.

The System

The sustainable energy system approved by the Board of Trustees has several important features.

System Features

• Building envelope improvements – major improvements in insulation and sealing incorporated into building design. These improvements are already part of the BFF building project and are already included in the building costs.

• Solar – photovoltaic array for onsite power generation, and connection to grid for night-time power

• Geothermal – system of multiple wells, circulating coolant and heat transfer pumps for both heating and cooling

• System Certification – an independent contractor will inspect the geothermal system once installed to ensure that it is calibrated and operating within specification

Cost and Financing

Total Cost: $443,400

Funding Member loans (15 years, 1.5%) $240,000

Cash contributions $185,250

Remaining fundraising $18,150

How Do We Pay For It?

The total cost for the system is $443,400. This includes the solar and geothermal systems plus certification services to assure performance. Members of the church, led by Green First, have committed a combination of cash donations and low interest loans to fund these systems.
• Members of the church have pledged more than $185,250 in cash to make a significant down payment for the system.
• Members of the church have also pledged $240,000 in loans to finance the system. These loans are for 15 years at 1.5% interest payable to a legal entity representing the lenders. The loans will be memorialized in a promissory note, but the member loans will not be secured by a deed of trust or any other form of collateral. The annual servicing cost to the church for the loans will be $17,877 (per year for fifteen years inclusive of interest), which is approximately $1000 less per year than our FY17 budget for natural gas and electricity.