The Diocese of Vermont Diocesan Center has a new orchard in the backyard. If you look out one of the back windows you overlook the 35 tracker- arrays of the Rock Point Solar Farm (sometimes they refer to it as a solar orchard.) The Diocese of Vermont has a beautiful, large piece of property that is the home of its bishops, its diocesan HQ, a conference center, a school and a summer camp. The property at Rock Point was bought in 1855. It also includes hiking & biking trails, a community garden, spectacular views of Lake Champlain and the Chapel of the Transfiguration for both worship & weddings.
All Earth Renewables established the solar farm five years ago under a lease agreement with Dio Vermont. During that time the diocese paid All Earth 18¢ per kilowatt hour that was produced by the array. The local electric company, Burlington Electric, in turn, provided the diocese with a 20¢ per kilowatt hour credit on its electric bill over that same time period.
Now, five years later, the diocese has purchased the solar farm outright from All Earth for $269,700. The Rock Point Energy Co-op, which includes the various entities represented on the Rockpoint property, used funds from the Rock Point Partnership Campaign and a loan from the Bishop Butterfield Loan Fund. The Rock Point Partnership Campaign is a diocesan project for the preservation and ongoing improvement of the Rockpoint property and its facilities.
The solar orchard provides just a little more than the current electric needs of the entire Rockpoint operation. It is slated to bring in $40,000 annually from the Burlington Electric. A portion of that income will be used to repay the Bishop Butterfield loan. The coop plans to use other funds for more energy conserving projects on the property.
Care for the environment is an important aspect of our message in the Jesus Movement. The Episcopal Church in Vermont remains committed to environmental stewardship not only in Rock Point but also throughout the wider community.
The Rt Revd Thomas Ely
Bishop of Vermont
The Diocese of Vermont encompasses the State of Vermont, the Green Mountain State, and is made up of 46 congregations.
Information for this story and the photos were gathered from the Rock Point website.