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Churches Finding Ways to Worship Son and Sun

Two solar farms at First Baptist Church of Mount Olive are now generating enough to power a small town. (Nature Conservancy in North Carolina)
Two solar farms at First Baptist Church of Mount Olive are now generating enough to power a small town. (Nature Conservancy in North Carolina)
July 21, 2017

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – This Sunday, at least one North Carolina church will be thankful for the sunny weather of late. First Baptist Church of Mount Olive recently worked with a private company to construct two solar farms on its property - generating more than 20,000-megawatt hours of energy every year.

Senior Pastor Dennis Atwood says the revenue generated from selling the energy back to the power grid will underwrite several of the church's ministries.

"A lot of churches are struggling financially, and this has been a really incredible asset to give us an additional stream of revenue to help us keep doing the good things that we've been doing," he explains.

The amount of energy generated by the solar farm - which was formerly used as farmland - is enough to power nearly the entire population of the town of Mount Olive and displaced more than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Atwood says in addition to the solar farm making financial sense for his church, it also fell in line with their desire to follow through on their religious mission.

"It's a matter of stewardship for us and we didn't want the land to be developed for some purpose that would be contrary to the mission of our church," he says. "And solar farming is clean energy, and it's a good use of the earth and it essentially goes back to providing power for almost an entire town."

The average solar installation in North Carolina is about 33 acres and an installation of its size would generate almost $17,000 annually.

Solar farms also contribute to local tax bases. During its construction, the Mount Olive solar farm was responsible for almost a half-million dollars in Wayne County.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC