Success Stories

Bethany Christian Reform Church

Congratulations to Bethany Christian Reform Church, Gallup who won a national Interfaith Power and Light first prize in the Cool Congregation challenge and will receive $1,000!

They are honored for their creative solar array project and all of the outreach work they are doing for energy efficiency in their outlying churches. Thank you for all your work!!!

Bethany Christian Reform Church completed their solar installation in the fall of 2017. In addition to this project, the Christian Reform Church has been involved in supporting energy efficiency upgrades, including lighting at many of their missions in New Mexico and Arizona. they have also been engaged in education and advocacy to address climate change.


Click the image to view the video!


Las Placitas Presbyterian Church

Solar installation dedication, Summer 2017




St. Mark’s on the Mesa, Episcopal Church,  Albuquerque

After a 3 year process that included energy efficiency upgrades which took advantage of the NM IPL no interest loan fund, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church blessed their solar unit in November 2015 and began watching their meter as it generated energy from the sun in December.

St Mark solar groupTheir project is unique, in that they created a parish LLC and also offered some parishioner labor in creating their solar array that celebrates God’s creation and energy from the sun. Caring for creation and being a witness as the first Episcopal congregation in New Mexico to install solar were important factors in their decision. It took a lot of work, but they are so excited that they will gladly meet with any faith community to walk them through the steps. Contact anyone on their solar team: Andrew Clark; Ken Reese,  Nick Porter  or Fr. Christopher McLaren  Learn more at their website



United Church of Santa Fe, Santa Fe

Newest Solar Faith Community Addition, January 2016. United Church of Santa Fe installed 44 solar panels that currently provide 100% of their electric energy needs!!!!

UC of Santa Fe 1  Working for many years to care for creation and address climate change, United Church of Santa Fe installed an extensive system to preserve water in their facilities, in addition to energy efficiency measures.





UC of Santa Fe 2Extensive education and policy advocacy are also part of their Earth Ministry, which has been enhanced by their participation in Green Faith certification program.

They also have a commitment to their bio-region including river clean-ups and educating the youth about stewardship and creation care.




Solar Energy Case Study for First Unitarian, Albuquerque, New Mexico

September 2014


Parameter                              New Sanctuary                      Current System Installed in 2010

Size                                          30 KW                                      47.94 KW

Annual Production               40,000KWH                           76,963 KWH

Asset Cost                                $120,000                                 $352,.676

Cost KWH                                $4.00                                       $7.36

PNM Rec Payment                  .05 KWH                                  .14 KWH

Start rate Charge                    .11 KWH                                  .088 KWH

Lease rate**                           $560 mo                                  $1462 mo

Lease term                              20 yr.                                       20 yr

Annual Rate Increase              2.5%                                        2.5%

Buy out @ 6 yr                        $36,000 est                             $105,800 per lease appraisal

Annual savings                        $840                                        $3,500 est.


*proposed system new roof new sanctuary

**Est. avg. cost for production trued up every month based on actual production REC payment passed through to Premium Power LLC


Current solar system equipment:

205-235 Scott Poly Solar Panels

205 Enphase 190 micro inverters

205 Urirac Rapid Rock Ballasted Solar Racks (no roof penetration)

Enphase monitoring system


Solar PV Case Study Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Albuquerque

Proposal Summary


                                                Church Array 1                      Family Center Array 2           Total Both

Annual Peak Energy Usage     37,700 kWh                             93,120 kWh                             130,820 kWh

Current Annual Energy Cost   $4,788 (.127kWh)                   $10,895 (.117.kWh)       $15,683(.120kWh)

Proposed System Size             19.89-kW                                 39.78- kW                                59.67 kW

System Production Year 1       33,813-kWh                             67,626 kWh                             101,439 kWh


Total System Price: $199,894.50 Cash


PNM Renewable Energy Purchase (REC) Program

Term: From Commissioning date in 2012 to December 31, 2020

Rate: .05 kWh


Year 1 Avoided Cost of Electricity   $13,072

Year 1 REC Revenue from PNM       $  5,134

Total Year 1 Savings and Revenue  $18,206


Cost: $199,894.50

Estimated Energy Savings: $13,072.46

Estimated REC Revenue (Pre-tax): $5,134.24

Total Estimated Annual Savings and Credits: $18,206.70


Total energy savings year 1-5:  $70,733.92

Total REC Revenue year 1-5:  $25,162.93

Total Savings:  $95,896.85


Average monthly electric bill before solar:  $2,303.92

Average monthly electric bill with solar:  $786.69

Average monthly savings with solar: $1,517.23


Energy Savings and REC Revenue Years 1-20:  $426,924.06

Projected 25 year IRR (after tax):  8.55%


System pays for self in 10-11 years at current rate of electric power cost

St. Therese School, ABQ

Dedicated 120 Solar Panels

April 2014

During summer of 2014 received checks of around $300 instead of paying electric bills

Principal Donna Illerbrun, the Children, Parents and God’s Creation are HAPPY!

St.Theresa 2 St. Theresa 1








First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque is…


First unitarian leed land solarFirst Unitarian Church of Albuquerque has done a variety of building and grounds efforts to care for creation from efficiency, landscape, solar and a  LEED certified sanctuary that helped their campus earn a LEED Platinum status which was celebrated as the sanctuary was dedicated in 2013. Here is their story.

Very early in the design process, 30+ members participated in a LEED design charrette – a guided brain-storming discussion of what our goals and dreams were for the new sanctuary. This discussion resulted in a conservative estimate of 57 points for the project. If met, this would have earned us a Silver certificate, just shy of Gold.


The cost of achieving this ranking was estimated at 5% of the total project cost of $2.6 million or about $130,000.

Initially, we weren’t able to count our existing solar panels as a big part of how our campus is green. But, soon after we began to build, our LEED Consultant discovered a mechanism that would allow us to include our panels, earning us an additional 19 points! This leapfrogged our project well into the Gold category, just shy of Platinum.  Throughout the build process, our LEED consultant worked with the church and the contractor to find inexpensive ways to earn the few additional points that would earn us Platinum.  The project earned the highest award possible under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental lDesign program of L.E.E.D. with 82 points.

Features of the campus:

Up on the Roof!

All our roofs have solar panels that offset our energy consumption.

It Grows!

The project’s landscape design included many native species that use less water. It will eventually grow to blend with our beautiful habitat east of the social hall.  Our existing Jim Lewis Urban Hab- itat provided points too!

Around our neighbor- hood

Two city bus routes are within easy reach of our corner giving greater transportation access to all our members. Our neighborhood includes apartments and other high-density development which added points to our total.

That Hot Sun

In the sanctuary, we have window shades that automatically close when it is hot and open when it is cool to let in the warmth. Our new sanctuary roof is made of a material that reflects the sun, keeping us cool in the summer.


Precious Water

Our landscaping design includes a depressed area and water from our roof drains directly into it during rainstorms. This water eventually recharges our aquifer. Our new bathrooms include dual flow toilets.


Cars and Bikes

Our parking lot includes preferred spaces for those who park electric or hybrid cars. This encourages us to choose these options when we can.  We also have three bike racks for those who can cycle to church!


The Norbertine Community in Albuquerque celebrated their new solar field

norbertine solar blessing 1
The Norbertine Community in Albuquerque celebrated their new solar field, named Pope Francis Solar Field, with a special prayer and blessing in July 2015. The community has previously done energy efficiency work and with the new buildings that are a few years old they incorporated energy efficiency, water saving and xeriscaping. Their work assists their community to have a smaller carbon footprint and is a model for the many educational programs they have and for all who come to utilize their wonderful library and to pray or make retreat days.norbertine solar blessing 2








Energy Efficiency and Beauty Uplift for Taos Presbyterian Church a John Gaw Meem Masterpiece

Toas 2012The name John Gaw Meem has become synonymous with Spanish-Pueblo Revival architecture. His public buildings and churches are revered for their simplicity and respect for the heritage of New Mexico. Completed in 1952, First Presbyterian Church of Taos is Meem’s northernmost church in New Mexico.  It has been called one of his most successful because it is the simplest, yet most monumental of all of his ecclesiastical designs.


Toas 2 2012

Over the years, small changes have been made at the church, but the general features have remained untouched. Recently, the church has undertaken the delicate assignment of updating the sanctuary to be more energy efficient and compatible with today’s style of worship while preserving and even restoring many of Meem’s original design features.

Great care has been taken to respect Meem’s sense of proportion and attention to detail.  After research into Meem’s original paint scheme, the design committee decided to restore the Chancel’s accent wall as a dramatic feature of the sanctuary. Updating also includes a new sound system, enhanced and energy efficient lighting, new low emission carpet and new double paned windows in the Sanctuary.

Renewable Energy at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community:

Holy Rosary Catholic Community has made a commitment to install two arrays of solar panels, one on the roof of the Family Center and the other on the roof of the church.   There are 156 panels on the family center roof and 78 panels on the church.  These panels are presently converting the sun’s energy into electric energy and passed into PNM’s electrical system.  Your contribution to the monthly building fund is paying for this project.  Thank you!

Why make such an investment?  Who benefits?

You diminish or eliminate your monthly electric bills

Solar energy provides an exceptional return on your investment..for us 8.5%

The sun is the world’s first and largest power plant, providing unlimited clean energy

Solar energy is a clean energy source

Solar energy conserves natural resources, reduces the carbon footprint

Solar energy saves water:  For every Kwh produced by our utility companies over half a gallon of water is needed for cooling and cleaning of power plants

Most importantly, you can do your part to be a good steward of Mother Earth (2013)

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Albuquerque Caring for Earth and Community

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish1Around here, at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Albuquerque NM, our Pastor, Father Juan Mendez leads by example.  He doesn’t ask us to do something he is not willing to do himself.

Fortunately for us, the parishioners, one of his passions is taking care of the environment.  He came to us over a decade ago and began to plant trees.  We are now up to 115 trees on our property.  If there is a space, he will put a tree on it.  This helps to offset the pollution from the many cars that pass our church every day.

He also is passionate about recycling and has preached on the benefits of recycling in our homes.  Once again, leading from the front, he started a recycling program here at the church.  We recycle paper and plastic as well as aluminum.  He has placed containers in all our buildings, including the church.  He even went so far as to get a dumpster, dedicated to the collection of cardboard.  This helps to impress upon our parishioners the importance of recycling whenever possible!

We have a retention pond on the property that collects all of the rainwater from the parking lots.  Rather than waste that water, he had a system installed to pump that water into our courtyard to nourish the various plants and trees there.  Here in the desert southwest it is critical that we preserve our water resources.  Our water collection system and sprinkler usage does just that!

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish2Father has always been conscience of energy usage and closely monitors our monthly usage.  He has set the thermostats at a common setting to prevent people from turning them up or down according to their personal desires and comfort levels.  He installed programmable thermostats in the buildings so we could set the temperatures for the times when the rooms are being used.  He installed energy efficient furnaces in the Parish Hall, replacing an old, energy hogging system.  He replaced every light bulb in our buildings with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). He turned off half of the lights in our parking lot to save energy and installed timers on the rest of them. He even installed light timer switches in the classrooms to prevent people from forgetting to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

By far, the biggest project that Father has taken on to date is the installation of solar panels on our parish hall.  He installed over 100 panels to cover the energy needs of all our buildings.  The panels are ideal for our New Mexico climate and our parishioners are very supportive of the alternative energy that saves us so much money.  From the first day they were connected, we have been realizing energy savings well in excess of $1000 per month.

We have had a few comments from parishioners that now we can turn the air conditioning down or the heat up, but we have been quick to correct them.  We did not install the panels so we could waste more energy, but so we could be more energy efficient!  Father continues to monitor thermostats and electric bills to ensure we are doing all we can to save the planet.  He is a true steward of the environment and we at Nativity are blessed to have such a wonderful example for all of us!

We look forward to the next idea he will have to help us preserve a planet that we will be able to pass on to our children. (2012)

St. Therese School, Albuquerque

St. Therese School1St. Therese School2St. Theresa’s Catholic School teaches and walks the ways of caring for God’s creation. Over the years they have installed efficient furnaces, coolers and other means to save energy. In 2012 they undertook the enormous task of getting rid of heat producing asphalt.

Turning the area in to a playground and gardens was a delight for the younger children and the plants that now have a home to grow. The principal, Donna Illerbrun continues to work to get a greenhouse on the property in growing order, the school has been working with students on energy efficiency and they have a goal to install solar panels. With persistence, little by little the students are St. Theresa are learning the ways of stewardship.

St. Therese School3Students took park in a tree planting in the spring of 2013 and the school began a campaign to raise money to get solar panels on their school within the year.  Contact to help out this great project. (2013)






United Church of Santa Fe, Santa Fe

United Church of Santa Fe1Working for many years to care for creation and address climate change, United Church of Santa Fe has installed an extensive system to preserve water in their facilities, in addition to energy efficiency measures.

Extensive education and policy advocacy are also part of their Earth Ministry, which has been enhanced by their participation in Green Faith certification program.

They also have a commitment to their bio-region including river clean-ups and educating the youth about stewardship and creation care.  (2013)


CFL LightbulbsRev. Roger Perkins, Church of the Holy Spirit, Gallup and Rev. Martin Bayang, All Saint’s Episcopal Church, Grants, (left) gratefully receive CFL light bulbs for their parishioners and for families The CFL project to outlying Episcopal parishes were made possible through a grant from the Episcopal deanery. Other parishes who will benefit CFL’s for their parishioners so that they might lower their energy bills include: Church of the Holy Cross, Edgewood and Church of the Epiphany, Socorro.

Rev. Roger Perkins (below right) shows off a new drainage system that protects the newly renovated Church of the Holy Spirit while offering rainwater to plants. The parish has just undergone extensive energy efficient renovations including energy efficient windows, new heating and cooling system and new energy efficient lighting. It is an excellent witness to care of creation and stewardship for property and the future members of the congregation.  Rev. Perkins noted that they did the renovations with an eye for paving the way for the next 50 years of the faith community. They are already benefiting from the energy efficiency measures and grateful to be caring for God’s Earth. Drainage System

lightbulbsParishioners at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Silver City (left) express their joy at caring for creation through energy efficient light bulbs that have been installed and by their choice to do dishes by hand rather than use disposable dishes and cups at parish functions. Creating smaller eco-footprints takes place one small act at a time and one step at a time.

Rev. Gary West, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Gallup (below left) found himself as St. Francis surrounded by young ecological followers at the ecumenical Vacation Bible School in Gallup during July. The theme of the summer school was caring for God’s creation. Children were introduced to recycling, solar green house, food production and many other sustainable practices to help care for Earth. Here the children are introduced to one of the community supported agriculture gardens children and lightbulbsand a solar green house at Work in Beauty. The school was coordinated by Betsy Windisch, of First United Methodist Church and an NMIPL board member and many wonderful volunteers in the Gallup faith and civic community.





First Unitarian’s Solar Voltaic Project

Several months ago, our board set up a Solar Electric Task Force to investigate the feasibility of generating a significant portion of the church’s electricity using a solar photovoltaic system. The Task Force consisted of Tom Stafford, Rick Kennedy, and myself. Initially we thought we would incorporate a limited liability company with church member shareholders to purchase the system, thus taking full advantage of federal and state tax incentives that are not available to a nonprofit entity such as First Unitarian. However, recent developments made this course of action unnecessary. Thanks to all of you who expressed an interest in investing in this project. The board has moved forward and signed a non-binding MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Consolidated Solar Technologies (CST) for a solar photovoltaic system to be installed on the roof of the sanctuary. CST will design, finance, construct, and then own a 34 kilowatt grid-tied system. CST will sell the generated electricity to First Unitarian at a fixed price for up to 20 years, discounted by at least 12 percent from the current PNM cost. First Unitarian will have an option to purchase the system after year six. CST will be responsible for all service and maintenance issues during the term of the lease. The system will use the most efficient panels available today. The interlocking panels will be installed as a ballasted system with no roof penetrations. They will have a 5-degree pitch and will not be visible from street level. The panels will be fully warranted for 20 years and are expected to function for 25 to 30 years. solar sunflowerWith net metering, the electricity will either be used directly by the church or will reverse the PNM electrical meter. The system will supply about 60 percent of the church’s electrical usage and save about 42 tons of carbon dioxide per year. In addition, we estimate a savings of about $70,000 in electricity costs over the 20-year term of the lease. The savings would be considerably more if we purchase the system after year six since the power would be free and we would receive $0.15 per kilowatt hours generated from PNM for years 7 through 20. We expect the system to be installed and operating within two to three months. –Ken Callahan (April 27, 2010)

temple_lightSolar Eternal Light Shines at Nahalat Shalom

The Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) that serves as the focal point of Congregation Nahalat Shalom’s worship space is powered by new photovoltaic panels. Rabbi Brin and the congregation wish to follow a practice of eco-kashrut to reduce the community’s carbon footprint, and the Rabbi suggested to Elisa Friedmann that she make a solar-powered Ner Tamid the goal of her bat mitzvah community service project. Elisa raised funds by soliciting donations and selling handmade jewelry and invited Marlene Brown, then President of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association and a member of Nahalat Shalom, to teach a group of volunteers, including the rest of the Friedmann family, how to install the PV system.

temple_light2The Ner Tamid is a feature of every Jewish synagogue; it burns night and day and is often associated with the menorah, the seven-branched lamp that stood in front of the original Temple in Jerusalem. Because it symbolizes God’s eternal and imminent presence in our communities and in our lives, it is never extinguished. Calculations suggest that using solar energy for this one fixture will reduce Nahalat Shalom’s greenhouse gas emissions by 315 lbs. of carbon over the course of one year and up to 3 tons in twenty years!

Nahalat Shalom’s Ner Tamid was commissioned by Tova Indritz and designed by Diane Palley. It is in the form of a hexagon and incorporates images from the natural world and verses from the Torah that reflect the congre gation’s dual commitment to peace and justice.




Brother Sun Solar Project and Mother Earth Greenhouse Grace Tohatchi

While the little mission of St. Mary in Tohatchi (below right) might seem like an unlikely place for the birth of a sustainable Catholic parish;  it actually fits perfectly with the Franciscan presence. St. Francis, the patron of ecology inspires staff members Sr. Pat Bietsch a Franciscan Sister of Oldenburg, Indiana and Pastor Franciscan priest Rev. John Mittelstadt who has served the Navajo mission church for 20 years.

After much planning, and fundraising by the youth with Green Bingos and through donations, solar panels were installed May 1 by a Gallup start-up company, Green Horizons, operated by Jason Jones. The solar kit, which is from Helio Power in California produces 2 Kilowatts of power to the rectory and bingo hall.
The savings thus far are enough to convince anyone who might question the viability of solar. Thus far energy savings each month are estimated at about 30%. Some 1,554 pounds of CO2 have been saved since May. The parish averages 7.6kWh of energy production each day with a total yield thus far of 914 kWh. The total hours in use since May 1 is 1,275 hours. The staff estimates that $7 a day is being saved on electricity. In addition to the solar, energy efficiency measures are also incorporated into the rectory buildingtohatchie_greenhouse

This summer, with the help of volunteers a gutted mobile home is being retrofitted with greenhouse plastic side walls and roof to become the growing habitat for food for the community. The little mission with its ongoing efforts adds reality to the Canticle of St. Francis, “Praise be you God…especially Brother Sun…. Praise be you my God through Sister Mother Earth who sustains and governs us…”.