Our Savior Lutheran Church

Milwaukee, WI
Operational date
September 2008
2-kilowatt solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system
Total project cost
$10,000 from We Energies
$5,227 from Focus on Energy
Estimated savings achieved
$120 per year in electricity savings
Energy for Tomorrow participant
25% level
When the project was first proposed, concern for the classic Gothic-style façade of the church was expressed by members. The three-level, lannon stone building was dedicated in 1954, and the main roof line is oriented due east and west. The south face of the church and small chapel roof is a good solar window for solar collector panel installation, and the collectors are quite visible from Wisconsin Avenue, one of Milwaukee's most heavily traveled urban streets. "The consensus from the membership is that the PV awnings look just fine or appear to be stained glass windows," said Rev. Barbara Rasmussen, when asked about the congregation's reaction.
The small solar electric panel array mounted on the south church face demonstrates energy stewardship by saving a portion of the monthly electric bill for the 25-year expected operating life of the photovoltaic panels and by reducing CO2 emissions by two tons per year. The system economics were improved by cash-back incentives available from the Focus on Energy program, and the installation qualified for We Energies direct financial incentives for not-for-profits of $10,000.
In addition, recent major upgrades to the energy systems include a newer modular natural gas-fired, water boiler system serving the building. An electric light retrofit provides an estimated 8-kW load reduction, which also qualified for a cash incentive.
These projects demonstrate the congregation's commitment "to reduce human ecological impact on the earth and contribute to justice for people affected by environmental degradation. In addition, the project also demonstrates the steps that can be taken to improve the environment in an area of the city where daily living can be a challenge," said Pastor Rasmussen.