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The Episcopal Power and Light approach
Green Power 
in California
 e-mail discussion
Resolution #3:
Episcopal Power 
and Light
 Diocese of California
A Global 
to Change
Resolution on
Episcopal Power 
and Light
 Diocese of Los Angeles
Finding Power 
in the Church's 
Environmental Mission
 Episcopal News Service Release

October 1998

The Rev Sally Bingham, photo from Episcopal News ServiceSome good news to report. On Saturday 10/17/98 Sally's resolution calling for the Diocese of California to practice energy efficiency and to take advantage of the deregulated electricity market to buy "green" power was approved. On the same date Steve was in Boston convening a group of Episcopalians and others from New England to talk about Climate Change and the opportunities for response. In the afternoon, the Committee on Faith and the Environment of the Diocese of Massachusetts was a co-convener of: "A New England Town meeting on Global Climate Change" which was held at historic Faneuil Hall. Steve Curwood, host of NPR's Living on Earth was the moderator. US Senator John Chafee, R-RI, Chair of the US Senate Committee on the Environment, (and an Episcopalian) was the keynote speaker.

This Thursday Sally is hosting a wine and cheese reception at her house in San Francisco for Amory and Hunter Lovins. The Lovinses are in town to participate in the "State of the World" Forum along with Lester Brown and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Sally and Steve are getting ready to expand their outreach program beyond the Dioceses of California and Massachusetts. We are getting lots of help along the way. Recently we discovered that there is a new "Energy Star Congregations" program starting up at EPA, and guess what … the head is an Episcopalian. He promises to be very supportive.

In the weeks ahead, Sally and Steve would like to talk or exchange e-mail with each of you on the subject of Climate Change and getting the churches in your diocese and province to respond. We know that you are all very busy, but perhaps together we can make this work. Please help ....

The above is from an e-mail, Tuesday, October 27, 1998 9:21 AM, from The Rev Sally Grover Bingham

in Diocese of California
Resolution #3:

Resolved, that the 149th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California recommends that congregations and communicants of the diocese make every effort (when choosing an electric energy supplier) to examine the choices of energy generation, and to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources, especially those deriving from sun and wind; and further be it

Resolved, that the congregations and the communicants of the diocese make every effort to conserve energy and choose environmentally friendly and renewable resources in our institutions and homes; and further be it

Resolved, that the Diocesan Commission for the Environment, working in consultation with the Diocesan Council, be the research and resource center for questions and answers on this issue and provide assistance in selecting a provider.


Building on the resolution passed at the 1997 General Convention and the growing concern about global warming the Episcopal Church is moving towards a response that calls for more efficient use of energy and a supplier with less fossil fuel emission than in the past.

The spiritual implications of this scrutiny and economic choice will reflect our leadership role as steward for the environment, stewards for the health of our children and stewards for the human rights and justice issues affecting the communities where generation plants are sited.

In March of 1998, here in California, each church and individuals were asked to choose their energy supplier and their product.  This is an historical first.  It is an opportunity for people to put their "faith into action".  and is a chance for people to do something that demonstrates their love of Creation.


In December of 1997, representatives from 157 countries around the world gathered in Kyoto, Japan to forge consensus and engineer a treaty to save the planet from the dire consequences of global warming.  In the aftermath of that struggle, most Americans are waiting to see if the Kyoto Protocol will win the approval of the United States Senate.  It is the position of the Episcopal Church that regardless of what transpires in the Senate, the responsibility of everyone on a global basis is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to a minimum.

Last year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (at the request of large commercial enterprises) mandated wholesale competition among utilities.  This competition allows utilities to buy and sell electricity to each other and allows consumers the opportunity to choose their electric utility company. Transmission and distribution will continue to be regulated by monopolies, so as not to interfere with the delivery system.  No one has to change their wires.  But the issue in deregulation is the criteria for selection.  The "cheapest" energy sources are coal and fuel oil plants which have devastating impacts on Californians and our environment.

Submitted by The Rev Sally Grover Bingham
Chair, Commission for the Environment
Related Link:
• A Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds, and Church-Related Activities of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

A Response to Global Climate Change

For more than a decade, The Episcopal Church of the United States has been considering its position on the stewardship of Creation.  Of particular concern is  the issue of global warming.  Thanks, however, to advances in energy efficiency technologies, the deregulation of the electricity industry and the development of renewable energy resources, Episcopalians now have an historic opportunity to put their faith into action and play an active role in reducing the threat of climate change.

Most of the energy we consume in transportation, heating and lighting our buildings and powering our industries is generated by the combustion of fossil fuels which produce "greenhouse gasses."  Our first priority should be to invest in energy efficiency and squeeze more work out of the energy that we consume. Joining together by dioceses and provinces, we can pool our purchasing power to reduce the cost and pay-back times for these investments. In this way alone we can save dramatically on our overhead and put those savings to work where they are needed.  At the same time, we will cut our consumption of energy and our emissions of greenhouse gasses.

In the past, a consumer automatically bought electricity from the local monopoly.  In the future, one will be able to buy power from virtually any producer anywhere.  By combining the purchasing power of Episcopal Churches and their congregations into what is known in the industry as an "aggregate," not only will we be able to negotiate a favorable price, but we will be able to buy "environmentally friendly" power as well.  Furthermore, because of the labor intensive nature of this business, we will be creating new jobs. Entering into business contracts more as partners than customers, we, the Episcopal Church, will have a voice as to who gets those jobs.

Responding to Climate Change in 1997, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA passed a resolution calling on members to practice energy efficiency.  Similar resolutions have been passed in the Dioceses of Massachusetts and California.  Local leadership has also begun in earnest to reach out to the interfaith community.  With support, these models for action will set the example for similar efforts across the country and around the world.  In the national church alone there are 7.4 thousand parishes and 2.5 million parishioners.  Through the Anglican Communion, we have the potential of reaching 70 million households in one hundred sixty -four countries.

The Rev. Sally Bingham, Chair of the Commission for the Environment of the Diocese of California and Steve MacAusland, Co Chair of the Committee on Faith and the Environment for the Diocese of Massachusetts are developing this ministry with the support of the Regeneration Project, a San Francisco based public charity under the Tides Foundation.  Their mission is to help, at no cost, individuals and the institutions of the Episcopal Church to further their stewardship of Creation. Establishing the National Energy Initiative in the Episcopal Church and sharing it with the interfaith community is their highest priority at this time.  Please feel free to contact either Sally or Steve with your inquiries.

The Rev Sally Grover Bingham
The Regeneration Project
7 Laurel Street 
San Francisco, CA 94118 
Steve MacAusland
Episcopal Environmental Coalition
121 Sandy Valley Road
Dedham, MA 02026

Text adopted 1999 by Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles

The Stewardship of All Creation for the Next Century

RESOLVED, that the 104th Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles study and reflect on the understanding and commitments of the 1998 Lambeth Conference outlined in the explanation following; and

be it further resolved, that recommendations for implementation of the results of the study of these understandings and commitments be presented for consideration by the 105th Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los
Angeles in the year 2000.

EXPLANATION: We reaffirm the biblical vision of creation according to which creation is a web of inter-dependent relationships bound together in the Covenant which God, the Holy Trinity has established with the whole earth and
every living being:

We recognize
—  overpopulation
—  unsustainable levels of consumption
—  poor quality of water
—  air pollution
—  eroded and impoverished soil
—  forest destruction
—  plant and animal extinction;
We pray in the Spirit of Jesus Christ: Furthermore we commit ourselves We further pledge ourselves in our congregations, schools, institutions and individual lives
a. to seek to lead simpler lives that will put less strain in the resources of the earth;
b. to eat foods that will put less strain on these resources;
c.  to do "audits" on the products we use and wherever possible to use renewable and recyclable materials and to recycle them;
d. to convert, wherever possible, our electrical utilities to the use of "green power"
e. to participate in the rearborization of our planet by fostering the growth of plant life on our property;
f. to educate ourselves and to seek to educate others in the environmental problems and challenges we all face; and
g. to join with others, ecumenically and in interfaith and other ways to educate, advocate and exemplify environmental fairness and care.

Related Link:
• A Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds, and Church-Related Activities of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

by Pat McCaughan
2000 article providec by Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Sally Bingham is on a mission to convert Episcopal churches to green. She hopes to inspire congregations in the Diocese of Los Angeles, for example, to commit to the diocesan year-long focus of "Stewardship for all Creation...for the Next Century" by signing up to purchase Green Power, or energy from renewable sources.

Her message, though, is being carried to the whole church, and there are promising signs that the church is eagerly responding.

Purchasing and using clean energy is a faith issue, said Bingham, who is the environmental minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  She and Steve MacAusland, a layperson from Boston, are co-founders of Episcopal Power and Light, an initiative for the national church to respond to global climate change.

Bingham can already point to impressive converts.  The church and the public utilities in Denver, Colorado, are very near an agreement under which the city's convention center will be powered by sustainable resources during the 10-day General Convention, she reported in a recent interview.

"We have been overwhelmed by requests for speakers," she said of the tiny EPL corps of volunteers, plus one meagerly paid staff person who is speaking to churches in the Diocese of Northern California, she said. A volunteer is currently talking with congregations in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, and both Bingham and MacAusland travel across the country explaining the advantages of green power to congregations from southern California to Iowa to New York (where a workshop has been scheduled for next fall).

So far about 40 churches have signed up for green power, she said. Most are in the Diocese of California, but Bingham also has been working with other dioceses.

Los Angeles goes green

In the Diocese of Los Angeles, the CathedralCenter of St. Paul recently signed up to participate in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's "Green Power for a Green L.A." LADWP kicked off its ground-breaking program in May amid endorsements from long-time consumer and environmental advocate Ralph Nader and actor/activist Ed Begley, Jr.

Under LADWP's green power program, 20 percent of the electricity will be generated by new wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.

Unlike green power programs offered by the private sector, all of the accounts of participating churches will be aggregated by LADWP and treated as if they were one huge facility. This will enable the churches to qualify for rate discounts that could net as much as a 30 percent cost reduction, provided the 30 diocesan parishes in LADWP's service area participate. There are other incentives as well: energy audits and free energy efficiency products are available to participants to help reduce their bills and offset the $3 per month increased cost of the green power.

"This is what is attractive to the churches and essential to our EPL program," says Bingham of the EPL-negotiated cost reduction.

As a participant, the Cathedral Center will gradually convert completely to recyclable energy, said Michael Cunningham, diocesan missioner for administration. "In the short term, 20 percent of the power we will use will come from green power," he said. Initial cost increases will pay off in the long-term, he said.

"It will cost about three cents per kilowatt hour more (but) we are seeking to invest and to encourage churches to invest in our future so we don't burn fossil fuel. The DWP's program is about construction of power plants that use wind and geothermal and other sources of clean energy.

"When Bishop [Frederick] Borsch says we're committed to the stewardship of All Creation for the Next Century, one of the most effective ways we can do that is to ensure that our children and our children's children are not burning fossil fuels to keep the lights on."

At least one other congregation in the LADWP service area has also signed onto the green power program – St. John's/Holy Child Church in Wilmington. The other 118 diocesan parishes outside the LADWP service area can participate in similar plans through Green Mountain Energy, said Bingham.

Connecting faith and health

Using clean energy is "more than just a matter of helping people deepen their connection between faith and ecology, it also means commitment to "probably the most serious issue facing the health of the planet," she said.

"The faith community can really make a difference by taking seriously the stewardship of creation. And when you look closely at the issue of global climate change, and you realize that it's happening because of human behavior, you recognize that we've got to make some drastic changes in the way we behave. We can focus on our first and great commandment--to love God but also to love your neighbor. If you love your neighbor, you won't be polluting your neighbor's air."

Only recently has the church become involved in environmental advocacy, she said. "The focus has always been on saving human souls (but) with the new realization that saving the earth is the only way to save human life, the church is beginning to make environmental issues a central part of its ministry," Bingham said.

That's why she created Episcopal Power and Light (EPL), along with MacAusland of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Both members of the Episcopal Environmental Coalition Network, they began discussing the possibilities of having their own nonprofit ministry/business while hiking during a meeting recess in October, 1998.

"We thought that if we could go outside the church and raise money we might be able to make a difference. And so we did that," she said. They launched EPL in the Bay Area, where approximately 21 churches have already converted to green power.

"The environmental crisis is a spiritual one. If there is hope in the world for healing of the planet and a healthy future for our children, churches must be involved. Unlike corporations, government or academic institutions, we have the ability to reach the hearts and minds of the masses," Bingham said. "This church has always cared about social justice issues. The creation of jobs and the building of new technology that will not pollute the air are social justice issues.

Our generational 'neighbors'

"By commandment, we would love nature, which is our source of food, medicine and energy. We might also consider the generations to come as 'neighbors' and show love towards them by using sustainable methods of energy for fueling our modern society. If we take God's words to heart, the words that tell us we have dominion over all living things, then people of faith must now assume a leadership role in the healing of our planet. And a good place to start this initiative is our places of worship.

"With very little effort we can put our churches on an energy conservation program and replace the generic 'dirty' electricity we have been paying for with clean renewable sources such as new wind turbines."

Ultimately, the Episcopal Power and Light initiative impacts 450 Episcopal churches and 168,000 parishioners in California, and could become a model for action by Episcopal and other churches nationwide.

"Stewardship of the earth has always been a part of a church's mission, but not until recently have ministers entered the advocacy arena. The focus has always been on saving human souls. With the new realization that saving the earth is the only way to save human life, the church is beginning to make environmental issues a central part of its ministry," said Bingham.

And that's not all. Once she's made more progress with renewable energy, she intends to focus more attention on water, says Bingham. "We will work on water issues after the Episcopal Church has become a zero-emission institution."

For more information, contact the Rev. Sally Bingham at (415) 929-1589 or by e-mail.

–Pat McCaughan is senior correspondent for Episcopal News, the newspaper of the Diocese of Los Angeles

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