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Beating back those big church utility bills with smart choices

Beating back those big church utility bills with smart choices

A mention of St. Columba’s in Washington, D.C., is worth repeating from today’s New York Times. Mireya Navarro reports on how interfaith initiatives and cooperatives like the energy-purchasing group on St. Columba’s Environment Committee have helped churches save big money over time and put those dollars back into mission rather than simply use it to pay utility bills.

…an environmental committee was created from the congregation of 3,800 several years ago to come up with energy-saving measures like installing motion sensor lights and purchasing wind power through the local utility.

Still, said Paul J. Barkett, the church’s chief operating officer, St. Columba’s faced monthly energy bills that averaged $8,000, mostly to heat and cool two buildings housing the church, which opens its showers, washers and dryers to about 35 of the community’s homeless people.

St. Columba’s now expects to save up to $12,000 a year after joining the purchasing group. The church operates on an annual budget of $2.4 million that is mostly drawn from parishioners’ contributions, he said.


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John B. Chilton

Buying wind-power may be fossil fuel energy saving. But it’s not yet dollar saving. That’s not to say there are ways to be more energy efficient and save your church money.

What’s clear from the article is that the savings it is talking about are from being part of a larger buying group and using that to bargain for lower rates from the power company.

A prior condition is that you must be in an area where there is electricity competition (rates are not government regulated). That’s not available everywhere in the US. And where it is, it’s not always benefited consumers.

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