By Francine Phillips
January 4, 2016 (La Mesa) -- Journey Community Church in La Mesa is bringing new light this year to the community. This month Journey has completed one of the largest solar conversions in East County, San Diego. The church on Center Drive owns a seven-acre campus of buildings, including offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, a thrift store, and a food bank as well as commercial businesses that rent space. Overall, the 207 kilowatt system carbon reduction is the equivalent to 4,302 cars being removed from the road, 3,658,582 gallons of gas not being used, 26,484 trees being planted and could power 5,951 homes or 453,489 light bulbs.
“We looked at the possibility of solar a year ago and the benefits to us and the community were clear,” said Ed Noble, the lead pastor of Journey. “We want to do what we can to connect to our community, serve the region and be good neighbors.”
Journey Community Church launched a campaign to install the system and the generous church-goers pledged more than $3 million to install the system and make other needed capital improvements to the buildings. The savings to the church annually will number $100,000 by converting to solar and those dollars will be used to further the church’s ministry. The installation bid was awarded to Precision Electric Solar.
“It is awesome to see what God gives us freely on a daily basis with the sun and be able to harvest it and create electricity,” said Greg Abell, president of Precision Electric Solar. "We are proud to work with a church that supports the community like Journey does. In less than five years they will have their return on investment."
Use of solar energy reduces the sulpher dioxide (S02) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury emissions into the atmosphere, which can be responsible for:
· Increased incidence of premature death;
· Aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular illness;
· Decreased lung function, include acute bronchitis, particularly in children and asthmatics; and
· Chronic inflammation.
· Mercury emissions are deposited in watershed and transformed into methylmercury, which contaminates fish and contributes to neurological impairment.
The project has been aided by help from church members that included roof repairs, the installation of new parking lot lamps, and other professional labor contributions. Additional components to the capital campaign will include aides to disabled members, a welcome center, improvements to the youth areas (currently about 160 – 180 middle and high schoolers and 200 - 250 children) in toddlers through primary grades.