Doves are released to celebrate the completion of a 114-panel solar array project at Community of Grace Presbyterian Church in Sandy on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Solar panels are pictured on the Community of Grace Presbyterian Church in Sandy on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. A Sunday ceremony celebrated the solar project's completion last week
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Rev. Jerrod Lowry holds a dove during a celebration marking the completion of a completion of a 114-panel solar array project at Community of Grace Presbyterian Church in Sandy on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SANDY — A community building and local Presbyterian church has a brighter future when it comes to the monthly power bill with the installation of 114 solar panels that will meet 85 percent of the facility's energy needs.

A Sunday ceremony celebrated the solar project's completion last week at the Community of Grace Presbyterian Church.

The panels, long a goal of church leadership, became a reality with a $63,183 grant from Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program, which has 50,000 members in a tri-state region.

The grant, according to Grace's session member Jeff Schreiber, covered about 70 percent of the cost of the panels and installation.

"It is very, very exciting," Schreiber said. "We are just very grateful to the customers of the Blue Sky program for the grant to help make this possible."

Schreiber said that for several years, church leaders wanted to get solar panels installed at the church, but there were a number of hurdles that had to be overcome.

The roof needed replacing and rooftop cooling systems were also in bad shape.

"We put together a campaign to restore some of our infrastructure and started looking at solar," Schreiber said. "At that time we didn't have the funds to do so. It is a very small congregation, about 200 members."

The church submitted an application to Rocky Mountain Power for a Blue Sky grant in 2016, but didn't get the funding.

"It is a very competitive process," he said.

The church tried it a second time, and leaders found out in February they would get the money.

The solar panels were installed about a month ago, and last week church leaders flipped the switch on the energy system.

"We expect the savings to pay for the cost of the system within two or three years," Schreiber said. "The energy savings we get with our power bill will help us do outreach and serve the greater community."

Schreiber said the church building not only serves as the house of worship for the Grace congregation, but as a community meeting center for a variety of groups, including youth basketball teams and martial arts enthusiasts.

"It is in use nearly every day of the week," Schreiber said.

The Community of Grace Presbyterian Church is the first Presbyterian church of 22 in the Utah-Idaho region to have solar panels installed, according to Rocky Mountain Power.