Len Whalen, Kent United Methodist Church project lead, far left; Pat Gray, Creation Care Team and grant writing team; Pastor Jim Head-Corliss; and Kevin Charap, MAD Energy NW general manager, worked together to bring a solar energy project to be installed at the church. COURTESY PHOTO, Alex Woody/Kent United Methodist Church

Len Whalen, Kent United Methodist Church project lead, far left; Pat Gray, Creation Care Team and grant writing team; Pastor Jim Head-Corliss; and Kevin Charap, MAD Energy NW general manager, worked together to bring a solar energy project to be installed at the church. COURTESY PHOTO, Alex Woody/Kent United Methodist Church

Kent church receives $102,000 PSE grant to install solar panels

Project will reduce electric bills, emissions at Kent United Methodist Church

Kent United Methodist Church will receive an $102,135 grant from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to install a solar panel system to reduce energy costs and electricity emissions.

Auburn-based MAD Energy NW hopes to begin construction in late March or early April and finish in May, according to church spokeswoman Pat Gray. The church is at 11010 SE 248th St.

“This grant will help us to take a next step in our transition to renewable energy while partnering with PSE to further educate our congregation, our wider community, United Methodist Churches in the Pacific Northwest and across our country,” said Jim Head-Corliss, lead pastor at the church. “We look forward to sharing the positive benefits of renewable energy with a diverse range of faith communities in the greater Kent area.”

The congregation’s Creation Care Team spearheaded the project, part of the church’s overall emphasis on saving energy and reducing emissions from the church building. The team is leading the congregation in responding individually and as a church to care for God’s creation and help the environment, according to a Kent United Methodist media release.

In April 2021, several agencies of the national United Methodist Church pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the organizations/ministries, facilities, operations and investments by 2050.

The grant, funded by PSE’s Green Power and Solar Choice customers, brings local solar projects to the company’s electric service area while providing support to grant recipients through lower utility bills for low-income or Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities and the organizations that serve them.

Once installed, the system is expected to produce over 41,000 kilowatt hours per year, saving the church significant money on electricity bills. The church will use all the solar energy it generates first. Any extra generation will be banked to draw from when the church is consuming more energy than generating.

The congregation is committed to reducing their impact on the earth’s resources and has made a number of positive improvements, including double-pane windows, LED lights, heat pumps, WiFi thermostat for the church’s large sanctuary, timers on electric heaters, and recycling and composting programs.

Kent United Methodist Church focuses on helping the local community, Gray said. For over 20 years, the congregation’s Shared Bread program has assisted Kent residents with rent, water, and PSE bills. In 2021, over $70,000 was distributed through this ministry, according to the media release.

Other programs supported by the church include Kent HOPE (emergency shelter for women and children), Catholic Community Services, NW Trinity Mobility Project, Kent-Meridian Hub, Atlantic Street Center, Church World Service Crop Walk, Kent Food Bank, Pediatric Interim Care Center, St. Stephen’s Housing Association (transitional housing), and a car camping program in the church’s parking lot.

The congregation also hosts recycling events for the City of Kent in the church parking lot and has adopted a portion of Southeast 248th Street for regular clean up.


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