Construction crews from Grass Valley-based Sustainable Energy Group are busy this week installing an array of 31 solar panels atop the roof of Nevada City’s United Methodist Church.

After the panels are installed, the project will eliminate 75 percent of the church’s energy consumption.

The church has already raised more than $21,000 for the panels, which is almost half of the cost of the project. Due to the funds raised, and a good loan through Empowered Energy Systems, the church will immediately see a cost savings, officials said.

“As soon as we flip the switch we’re saving money,” said retired Rev. Don Baldwin. “Up to $100 a month.”

A large fork lift was on scene Wednesday morning, elevating the panels 50 feet into the air where a crew — attached to ropes and climbing harnesses — carefully put the panels into place.

The almost 45 degree angle of the United Methodist Church, and the 50 foot drop to Mill Street below, posed some challenges for the crew.

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“This is one of the most logistically challenging installations,” project designer Penn Martin said.

Martin decided on a black panel array to match the black tiled roof of the church.

“The main thing was not to adversely impact the integrity of the architecture,” Martin said.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email efunez@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4230.


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