On December 22, Washington Hebrew Congregation (WHC) flipped the switch on the new solar array atop their Temple building on Macomb Street. The switch to solar will offset an estimated 348 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to preventing 383,324 pounds of coal from being burned or growing 5,905 trees for ten years. In their announcement of the project, the Congregation quoted Gensis 1:4, “God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness,” and stated they are putting that light to good use.
“This first solar energy system is good for the environment, offers a learning laboratory for our students and congregants, improves air quality in our city, and is an expression of our mission and values,” said Board Member and Chair of the Solar Committee Jeff Weiss.
A big part of tikkun olam – repairing the world – is achieved by going green. The effects of fossil fuels on the planet are well documented, and WHC pointed out the reference in the Torah just a few chapters after the reference that “light was good.”
“Now the Valley of Siddim was dotted with bitumen pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, in their flight, threw themselves into them, while the rest escaped to the hill country. The invaders [four Middle Eastern kings] seized all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their provisions, and went their way.” Genesis (14:10-11)
Yonatan Neril, co-author of Eco Bible volume 1: An Ecological Commentary on Genesis of Exodus, writes, “Once the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into the bitumen pits, they got trapped and lost all of their wickedly gained wealth.” Then, and in our day, what wealth, comfort, and security we have gained at the expense of others, and the planet, is forever at risk of slipping away. (Times of Israel, Jan. 12, 2021, “What Does God Have to Do With Solar Energy”)
“One of our core values is to stand together in the face of life’s challenges,” said WHC Executive Director Steve Jacober. “There is no bigger challenge to life than climate change, so for us to play a part in slowing that change down is something we felt we had to do.“
WHC has been striving to implement solar options for many years, and in 2021, it became clear that the technology and the District’s solar policies and incentives made it possible to receive the financial benefits. The developer, New Columbia Solar, estimates the 414.9 kW array will produce 45 % of the building’s needs, saving close to $50,000 per year on our electric bill, and total benefits of $1.5 million over the life of the project.
“This really wouldn’t have been possible without the incentives from the D.C. and federal governments,” according to WHC Director of Engineering Mohan Mistry. “With them, this project is a win-win for everyone.” Mistry adds that plans are in place for solar at Julia P. Bindeman Suburban Center (JBSC) as well, should the state of Maryland introduce its own incentive package.
Steve Stoupa, WHC Director of Finance, added, “None of this would have happened if not for the teamwork of the Solar Committee – Mark Director, Steven Jacober, Andrew Lazerow, Mohan Mistry, Richard Newman, Michael F.R. Rocks, Lew Weiner, and Jeff Weiss.”
About New Columbia Solar
New Columbia Solar develops, finances, owns, and operates rooftop, canopy, and ground-mounted solar projects located on commercial, industrial, multi-family, non-profit, and faith-based properties across the District of Columbia and Maryland. Founded in 2016, the company has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive solar energy company in the District of Columbia with a mission to power every home and business in the District of Columbia with solar energy. They pride themselves on using solar energy to provide increased cash flow and financial flexibility to more than 100 schools, nonprofits and residential building owners across the District. For more information visit www.newcolumbiasolar.com.
New Columbia Solar Contact: Becca Browne
Phone: (224) 522-9423
Email: [email protected]