In 2016 when the board decided to accept a gift to start the process of building our new campus, there were many dreams about all the possibilities. One dream at the time was that some portion of the operational cost of the new building would be offset by gifts to the foundation. In fact, the overall utility costs at the new building are less than those at the old campus, in spite of air conditioning and a 25% bigger building. However, the foundation grew only a little during the building campaign.
As you drive in and out of the campus in the next few months, you will see the next phase of this dream becoming a reality. Work begins this month on the installation of solar panels to provide electricity to our building. This 660 KW field will provide between 60 and 70 percent of our electricity in a given year. During the building of the new campus, a small group of donors kept exploring how to include solar panels as a way to ensure the electrical future of the campus. A combination of donations, grants, and other incentives will fully fund the field and save the parents of the school at least $60,000 a year for the expected 40-year life of the field.
The mission of South Christian–to equip students to live Christ-centered lives and serve God to their greatest potential–is lived out in this project. Solar power meets this mission and our strategic plan by being a faith-infused project that ensures long-term financial sustainability.
The clear call to Adam in Genesis 1 is that he is to take care of the earth. Centuries of Christians have taken this as a call for themselves to join with Adam in caring deeply for the earth that God created and gave into our care. This includes a long tradition in our community of farming and conserving land. Joining these traditional land stewards in recent decades are urban stewards who make lifestyle choices to tread more lightly on God’s earth. All of these efforts are honored by South Christian with the installation of a solar array. It productively uses the land God has given us while reducing the amount that we spend caring for it. Solar also reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and the pollutants that come with using them. These pollutants overwhelmingly impact poorer people, so by installing a solar field South Christian is obediently following God’s commands to care for the least of these and to be stewards.
The solar field is also a fiscally responsible move for South Christian’s tuition-paying parents. The field is guaranteed for 25 years but has an expected life of 40 years. After two years of initial investment by donors, which comes at no additional cost to the school and does not use tuition dollars, the savings will amount to at least $60,000 a year. That savings will only go up as electric rates increase over the next 40 years. These savings in the budget can be passed on to parents for decades to come.
This new solar field meets our mission and will be a visible testimony to the values of our community. It will inspire students to further explore their gifts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and attract the next generation of families excited to join institutions that live out their faith. Our hope is that together we can look at the solar field and remember God’s faithfulness and our responsibility to stewardly care for his world and his children.