As solar panels pop up on roof tops across the valley, it’s clear to see that renewable energy is on the rise. Last week, solar panels were installed at the First Unitarian-Universalist Society of Marietta (FUUSM). The installation established FUUSM as the first religious organization in Washington County to have solar panels as a major source of electrical power in its main worship building, located at the corner of third and Putnam Streets in Marietta, Ohio. The system, comprised of a 12.32 kilowatt system, was completed by Pickering Energy Solutions of Parkersburg, WV.

The system will generate approximately 66% of the annual electrical usage of the church building, and FUUSM will initially save about 10% of its electricity bill annually due to the solar panels, until such time as FUUSM fully owns the panels.


Renewable energy technologies have matured to the point where they can reasonably be incorporated into our lives with little impact on us while allowing us to live in a more environmentally friendly manner. Solar photovoltaic panels, which can be easily incorporated into a variety of building environments, often without visual impact, will produce over 6 times the amount of energy that it takes to make the panel over its 25 year lifecycle.

George Banziger, President of the FUUSM Board of Trustees, noted that the installation of solar panels is a momentous event for FUUSM and helps to fulfill its commitment as an official “green sanctuary” congregation, a designation it received in 2014 after a rigorous application process from the Unitarian Universalists Association, its national denominational organization.


George says the congregation is grateful to Golden Rule Associates, which helped finance the project, for its support of the installation. Dave Ballantyne of Golden Rule Associates stated, “We are pleased to support FUUSM’s commitment to its green sanctuary status by this initiative which I hope will be exemplary to others for increasing use of renewable energy and decreased use of fossil fuels.”

Chip is an entrepreneur who lives in Williamstown, WV who is involved in various businesses and non-profit organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Chip started Pickering Energy Solutions, a WV company which installs, owns and maintains solar photovoltaic power systems within the Mid-Ohio Valley.