Temple Emanuel, Greensboro dedicated their 5 kW solar system on October 16, 2011 at their Jewish Festival. Temple Emanuel has had a very active Teva Committee for many years. Teva is the Hebrew word for nature. The Teva Committee worked for several years shepherding the solar project through the congregational administrative structure, culminating in unanimous approval by their Board of Trustees. Both Rabbis Fred Guttman and Andy Koren were fully supportive. Each donor receives a proportional share of the tax credit on their North Carolina return, depending on the size of their donation to the total cost of the project. They were also able to take a deduction on their federal return for their charitable contribution. Teva committee members estimate that donors received about 40-50% of their donations back in the form of these credits and deductions.
The congregation came to the table in an amazing fashion, with 58 families donating to the project. Donations ranged from $10 to $3000, allowing people of all income levels to share in the sense of ownership. The solar system has a direct tie to Duke Energy, and sells all of its electricity to Duke and the Renewable Energy Credits to NC Greenpower, thus reducing their gross expenditures on electricity. The project costs about $25,000, but again this expense was absorbed by the donors, not the congregation, and Teva committee members estimate that after taxes, the project probably costs about $13,000.
Within the first year of operation, the array brought in the congregation $1,200. Teva members point out that the congregation “made all of the money back for the congregation on the first day that we started generating electricity—because the congregation did not directly invest any funds in the project.”
As the members of Teva remind us, it is important to understand that “this project cost Temple Emanuel $0.”