WEST HARTFORD — The Emanuel Synagogue will soon be powered largely by solar power, making it one of the first synagogues in the area to install solar panels on its roof.
It’s expected to supply about 90 percent of the synagogue’s annual energy needs and comes about a month after the town announced a plan to have the entire community use only clean energy by 2050.
There will be a ceremony to celebrate the project at 5 p.m. on July 29 at the synagogue, 160 Mohegan Drive.
“This project enables us to devote more resources to important synagogue missions, including fulfilling our obligation to preserve and improve the world around us by reducing the purchase of electricity produced by fossil-fueled power plants,” said Ken Simon, the Emanuel’s president.
The panels will produce 198,000 kilowatts-per-hour annually, which is about the same amount of power 15 average homes use each year. It’s also estimated to avoid 140 metric tons of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions this year, which is about the same as emissions from 30 cars.
The synagogue partnered with Verogy, a Hartford-based solar developer for the project.
“The electricity usage and available roof space makes the Emanuel Synagogue an ideal candidate for this type of project,” said Bryan Fitzgerald, director of development at Verogy. “Now is the perfect time for businesses and non-profits to tackle the uncertainty around electricity rates by going green.”
The synagogue first considered installing solar panels on the roof about 10 years ago, said Thomas Mastronarde, an Emmanuel member in charge of the project.
“The proposed system would have produced less than 25 percent of the annual electricity use and did not provide significant savings,” he said.
They instead looked at other projects to bring down energy usage, such as replacing the oil boilers with natural gas ones, adding insulation, and replacing refrigerators, freezers and lights with more efficient appliances. Combined, the projects reduced energy use by 33 percent during that time, Mastronarde said.
“During this time period, the overall cost to install a complete solar energy system has been dramatically reduced through advances in mass production of panels, improved panel efficiency, and standardized labor-saving installation hardware,” he said.
More funding options and partnerships also became available to help non-profits do these types of projects and so in 2019, the synagogue requested proposals for a solar panel system.
In January, it was announced the Emanuel Synagogue would partner with Verogy.
Under the power purchase agreement, Verogy owns, installs, maintains and operates the system for 20 years.
Verogy paid for the system through financing from the Connecticut Green Bank. There were also federal tax credits.
“The realization of this project supports the Emanuel community in helping to fulfill the mitzvah of repairing and preserving the natural world with which we have been blessed,” Emanuel spiritual leader Rabbi David Small said.