Renewable-energy advocates often say we must use the gift of natural resources – wind and sun. St. Croix Reformed Church took the gift idea to the ultimate, using the wind to give a gift to local students.
“We were impressed with the wind as a gift from God which we were able to utilize, thus, investing in renewable energy was good stewardship. For the last six months or so, we have had a credit on our electric bill,” the Rev. Rod Koopmans said.
When in 2012 the church installed a wind turbine with funding from the V.I. Energy Office, it made a commitment to use the savings for the island’s benefit. After a year of operation and accumulation of savings, the church reached out this fall to the nearby Alfredo Andrews Elementary School to determine its needs and how the church could assist.
Principal Joan A. Claxton responded that the school copy machine had recently failed and a replacement was needed. The church purchased, with savings from its Water and Power bill, a used machine and had it serviced by Adan Business Machines, then delivered it to the school.
Anna Marie Gordon, assistant principal at Alfredo Andrews, said the school really needed a copy machine for the main office.
“We didn’t have a copy machine in the office and the only working copier we had was in the library,” Gordon said.
The school often has to make copies for parents that come to the office.
“Ms. Claxton and I are so thrilled and grateful for the donation of the copier,” Gordon says. “This was truly a need that the Reformed Church responded to.”
The church’s 10-kilowatt turbine is hooked into WAPA through the net metering program designed by the Energy Office.
So far, the Reformed Church is the only institution that has turned its savings into a method of giving directly back to the community. Several organizations that net meter have expressed an interest in giving the excess energy they produce to non-profits. However the logistics and the economics do not appear to work for the power company.
Carl Joseph, energy analyst for the V.I. Energy office, estimated at the time of the installation of the turbine on the hill above La Reine that it would eliminate reduce the church’s electric bill more than $700 a month. An up-to-date report of the turbines power creation is available to view at at http://stcroixreformed.org/our-wind-turbine/
Energy Office spokesperson Don Buchanan said the American Recovery and Reinvestment grant for the turbine was $50,000 and the church contributed $16,500 to the project. He said the turbine will pay for itself in eight years.
“The church is not waiting for the turbine to pay for itself,” Buchanan said. “It’s putting the savings back into the community right now. The church is doing exactly what it said it would do in its grant application and we are very happy about that.”
“We will, from time to time, be making additional donations,” Koopmans said. “Nothing specific is planned as yet, but I’m sure that we will be able to put the savings from using a gift from God to good use.”