The Temple Goes Solar


You may not see our solar panels, but on July 26, 2018, they were already at work providing economical energy for the future of our Temple. 

What: We completed the installation of a PV system or photovoltaic installation (commonly called solar panels), for the Temple. 

Why: The installation will reduce overall energy cost. The Ways & Means Committee calculates that the cost of this improvement will pay for itself in about five years.

When: Most of the work was done in June and July 2018 with the final switch thrown by Sensei July 26. Planning for the upgrade took over a year and was mostly organized in the Ways & Means Committee.

Where: The south or "far" side of the Annex Hall roof. (See aerial view below.)

How: Because we expect the PV system to contribute to the Temple's operation for years to come, we also re-roofed the Annex Hall now to avoid trouble and cost later. Many people helped in this process, but we note several below for their efforts.

Who: Glenn Negoro and Glenn Torio were key players. Glenn N. took on the initial work with SDG&E and the PV contractors we vetted. Tim Kajita supplied technical research at a critical juncture. Michael Kinoshita and Nancy Martinez supplied expertise in project management and compliance with electrical ordinances, respectively. Nancy was on hand in the final days of switching over to the new system. Kenji Sensei officially threw the switch that starts us on this energy solution. We are lucky to have such practical engineering and architectural expertise in our Sangha! The PV contractor was Mission Solar Electric.

Tech-Speak for Solar Geeks: Most of us think each component in a solar installation is a separate panel, but the industry is more technical with its definitions. An individual component is not called a panel but a module (in our case, 3' x 4'  and made up of 60 solar cells). The group of modules together is called the panel or array. For our system we have a single array or panel of 84 modules, or over 5,000 solar cells working for us all day! Electrically the system size is 24KW. 

Options Open: The installation was sized to allow us to consider future improvements to the Annex and the property.

Why You Didn't Know Earlier: Other than reporting in the Kaiho and fund-raising solicitations, you would not have seen much evidence of the effort. We scheduled construction around major Temple events. Physical signs of the re-roofing and construction were not visible from most vantages around the Temple.

Good News: We made our goal of completing the system in time for our own Bon Odori on Sunday, July 29. 

BIG THANKS! We thank the many generous donors who supported the project. The Temple was able to fund the construction through donations and in part through future energy savings. We assumed no debt to complete the installation.

Regrets? We actually had to cut power to the Temple buildings at several points.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article attributed some food spoilage in the Temple freezers to the power shut-down, which was in error. We apologize for the error. 

Where the Solar Panels Are Located