Church in Compton Champions Clean Air and Community Resilience by Going Solar

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Church in Compton Champions Clean Air and Community Resilience by Going Solar

Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ now serves as a beacon of clean energy education and resilience, with hopes of providing critical services during electrical outages, heatwaves, or unhealthy air quality days.


The group picture with the awards Andreas Karelas, RE-volv, Executive Director Mario Holten, Wells Fargo Foundation, Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Impact Ms. Linda Cleveland, Church Secretary and long-time environmental activist Jacquelyn Badejo, Chair of the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office, City of Los Angeles, Pastor Ernest Garrett “the Brook”, Bekah Estrada, California Interfaith Power & Light Southern California Director

Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ, known as “The Brook (13204 Mona Blvd. Compton CA 90221),” in collaboration with RE-volv and California Interfaith Power & Light (CIPL), celebrated the commissioning of their new 12-kW rooftop solar and upcoming battery storage installation. The church’s move to adopt solar energy aims to alleviate financial strains, build community resilience, and bolster local clean energy projects and advocacy efforts. 

The celebration included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a speaking program featuring remarks from the Compton Mayor Emma Sharif, and a resiliency workshop. The Mayor presented two awards, recognizing The Brook and Ms. Linda Cleveland, long time community activist and church secretary, for their environmental leadership and contributions. 

“While there is significant clean air and energy progress underway in South Central LA, more work needs to be done to educate community members on its benefits and how solar and other clean energy technologies are accessible to them today,” said Jacquelyn Badejo, Chair of the Climate Emergency Mobilization Commission, City of Los Angeles. “Since The Brook church uniquely serves three neighboring communities, it is the perfect home base to spread awareness, educate, and accelerate local clean energy adoption.”


Mayor of Compton, Emma Sharif (wearing dark-colored suit), engaging with Sweet Alice, (peach-colored bonnet) a community advocate from Watts, alongside Leticia Vasquez-Wilson (wearing cream-colored blazer), Central Basin Water Board Director, discussing local clean energy initiatives.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Compton Mayor Emma Sharif stated, “This is a significant moment for our community and for the future of Compton.” Leticia Vasquez Wilson, Central Basin Water Board Director, on behalf of Laura Richardson, Former US Representative and community activist, followed by explaining, “The installation of solar panels at the Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ represents more than just a move towards renewable energy – it represents hope, resilience, and progress for our community.”

With solar energy, the church is set to save $184,033 on electricity costs over the next 20 years, thanks in part to the direct pay, also known as elective pay, provision available through the Inflation Reduction Act. This provision allows tax-exempt organizations to receive 30% or more in cash back on the cost of a solar system. A grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation supported RE-volv bringing their innovative solar finance model to The Brook, allowing them to go solar for zero down and start saving on their energy bills on day one. Additionally, their solar system will allow The Brook to avoid emitting 646,378 lbs of CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the system, equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 350 acres of trees every year. 

“The solar installation at the Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ is an excellent example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is helping community-based institutions, especially in communities of color, make clean energy upgrades that reduce costs and lead to quality-of-life improvements. The Elective Pay tool in the Inflation Reduction Act continues to be a game-changer,” said Ronald Newman, Senior Advisor, IRA Implementation, U.S. Department of the Treasury 

Andreas Karelas, Executive Director of RE-volv, highlighted, “Recent data suggests that when a nonprofit or house of worship goes solar, you can expect up to 80 residences in the area to follow suit over the next five years.” Karelas expresses gratitude for The Brook’s leadership and their commitment to educating community members about clean energy and community resilience. 

The solar and soon-to-be battery storage system yields significant benefits beyond producing clean, affordable power. With support from CIPL, WATTSKANDA consulted the community during the resiliency workshop to customize their emergency services, including air filtration on unhealthy air quality days and air conditioning during heatwaves. The event also provided resources for residents, churches, and nonprofits interested in adopting solar energy, leveraging federal tax credits and funding opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

“Our partnership with The Brook highlights the core mission of CIPL – to help faith communities take bold and just climate action”, said Bekah Estrada, Southern California Director of California Interfaith Power & Light. “The church’s new solar system will lower their carbon emissions and help save money, while building the foundation for a resilience hub in Compton.” 

RE-volv, in partnership with Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) and Green the Church, with support from NREL’s Solar Energy Innovation Network, recently developed an initiative to bring solar to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)-led Houses of Worship. The Brook is the first completed project of the initiative. 

“The Wells Fargo Foundation is pleased to see that our support of RE-volv’s work is playing a key role in making this project happen,” said John Moon, senior vice president and sustainability philanthropy lead for Wells Fargo. “Accessing the direct pay provision from the IRA is a game-changer for non-profits and community organizations to be able to access affordable clean energy solutions and support


Celebrating the solar panel installation at Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ, “The Brook” (aerial view).

About Watts-Willowbrook Church of Christ (The Brook): 

The Brook serves as a beacon of clean energy education and resilience, providing critical services during electric grid blackouts, heatwaves, or unhealthy air quality days. (13204 Mona Blvd. Compton CA 90221) 


WATTSKANDA is a nonprofit organization focused on the social and ecological transformation of the people, community and land of Watts and beyond through Water, Air, Transportation, Telecommunications and Sustainability, Konnecting, Agriculture, and Natural resources in a Demonstration of Alliance. The “K” in Konnecting represents the kinetic energy of the community to move any effort forward. The Watts Clean Air and Energy Committee is a program of WATTSKANDA, which will soon launch a “Cooling Center and Oxygen Cafe” model. Your generous donation will make a significant impact, helping us meet our goals and support various projects. Join us in making a difference today! 

About California Interfaith Power & Light (CIPL) 

California Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes individuals and communities of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. By becoming a CIPL member congregation and signing a congregational covenant, any faith community can join this inter-religious network without paying dues or obligations. Member congregations commit to education about climate change, promoting sustainability, reducing pollution, and advocating for climate justice. CIPL provides resources, connections, and volunteer opportunities to help congregations advance climate justice efforts. For more information on how to support California Interfaith Power & Light, visit their website

About RE-volv 

RE-volv is a climate justice nonprofit that helps nonprofits in historically excluded communities across the country go solar, while raising awareness about equitable climate solutions and training the next generation of clean energy leaders. To date, RE-volv has developed and financed solar projects for over 70 nonprofits in 18 states, collectively saving them $20+ million on their electricity bills, allowing them to better serve their 50,000 beneficiaries. The 4MW+ of solar RE-volv installed to date will avoid 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the systems. RE-volv is an inaugural member of the White House National Community Solar Partnership and is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Innovation Network. Learn more at

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