“Our God finds many ways to give gifts. Winds have blown over this hill since the beginning of creation,” Pastor Rod Koopmans said in services before a groundbreaking ceremony for a Bergey Windpower 10Kw turbine Sunday.
“We are excited about using the wind God has made to create our own energy,” he said.
He pointed out that being at the top of the hill in center island, the 65-foot-high turbine will be seen by most residents. “We hope people look to us as an example,” Koopmans said. “And look to us as faithful examples of Christian men and women.” He hopes this will attract new church members.
The Task Force appointed in the summer of 2010 to investigate getting a grant from the V.I. Energy Office consisted of Don Bailey, Will Borden, Stan Joines, and Neil MacQueen. They share the pastor’s hopes about new members but those also focused on some other elements too. What to do with the money saved by generating power with wind instead of buying it from the Water and Power Authority.
The total cost of the turbine and tower installation is $66,000. A $50,000 grant is coming from the Energy Office and $16,500 is from the Church Reserve Fund. Based on current rates and consumption, the Task Force estimates that over the next 15 years the turbine will generate between $126,000 and $185,000 in energy savings.
The Task Force has decided that the energy savings, after paying for maintenance, special projects at the Kingshill School, and repaying the church reserve funds, will go into a mission fund. MacQueen said this fund would stick to the energy theme.
“Say, My Brother’s Table needed an energy-efficient refrigerator, we could do that, or another faith-based group needs an energy-efficient air conditioner, we could do that. After all, it is their wind too.”
“A little faith and spirituality might be what is needed to make this project become as successful as church members hope it to be,” Don Buchanan, the Energy Office spokesperson said. Buchanan, who participated in the ground breaking, explained that it is recommended that before a wind turbine is installed a year of wind data for the location is collected. “Wind turbines can produce power at low wind speeds, but what the manufacturer usually doesn’t tell you is that the power produced at low wind speeds sometimes is not enough to light a light bulb.”
However, he continued, “The people at the church, who made the decision, spent a lot of time on this hill and do have a good idea of the amount of wind here. Also the Energy Office is delighted that the church is going with the Bergey brand. It has been around a long time. It is a proven model.” He noted that the grant to St. Croix Reform Church was one of 20 issued by the Energy Office with funds from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Jeff Cabrera, contractor for the installation, said at the groundbreaking, he expects to have the turbine spinning by Christmas.
Besides the original task force members Janie Koopmans, the school’s director, and science teacher Michael Mongeau also took part in the groundbreaking.
However, the youngsters wearing hardhats stole the show atop the hill, breaking the ground with little trowels or shovels taller then they were. They kept digging away while members of the church sang hymns and prayed.
“This is a wonderful example of how God asks us to pay his blessings forward,” MacQueen said.