Fr. John Grace of Immaculate Conception in Hampton, VA talks about the partnership with Catholic Climate Covenant and Catholic Energies to build solar panels at the Parish.
By Hannah Natanson
Right now, it’s a large, empty field.
But by next year, the five-acre plot in Northeast Washington will sprout about 5,000 solar panels, the largest ground array the nation’s capital has seen — a change wrought by local Catholic groups.
Catholic Energies, a nonprofit organization that helps churches across the country switch to solar energy, partnered with the field’s owner, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, to build a system sufficient to keep the lights on in 260 homes for one year. The power produced will go back into the D.C. grid, earning Catholic Charities enough energy credits to offset the electricity costs of 12 of its properties across the District.
WASHINGTON – IGS Solar and Catholic Energies will build the largest solar ground array and pollinator field project approved for construction to-date in the District of Columbia for the benefit of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington (CCADW), the organizations jointly announced today.
In response to Pope Francis’s call to combat climate change and to serve as good stewards of the environment, CCADW will host the 2-megawatt system comprising more than 5,000 panels. The system will produce more than 2.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, nearly 100% of the current power requirements for CCADW’s real estate portfolio across the city. The project is expected to offset nearly 3,400 tons of CO2 emissions per year. IGS will take ownership of and sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) created from this project. The project also supports the mission of the Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), which was formed in 2006 to address growing ecological awareness and the need to implement Catholic social teaching on ecology.
This solar project was created, developed and managed by Catholic Energies, a service of the CCC, which provides turnkey project development services and expertise as well as access to financial resources at no cost to Catholic organizations nationwide wishing to install solar power and other energy-efficiency equipment.
“We are proud to have this opportunity to take up Pope Francis’s call to action to protect our environment,” said Monsignor John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. “Climate change is an urgent issue, and we are pleased that this project supports DC’s Sustainable DC 2.0 initiative by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and generating solar power. We look forward to working with IGS Solar, Solar Energy Services Inc. and Catholic Energies on this exciting development.”
Dan Misleh, executive director of Catholic Climate Covenant, said, “This project is a prime example of creative thinking by Catholic Charities. So many good things are happening here: lowering carbon emissions, saving money on electric bills, supporting vital services and being a witness to the wider faith community on the importance of caring for God’s good gift of Creation.”
IGS Solar and its design/construction partner Solar Energy Services Inc. will build and operate the solar power system on approximately five acres of a site in Northeast Washington DC. The site will also continue to house The Gift of Peace Home operated by the Missionaries of Charity.
“All of us should be looking at ways to consume energy more responsibly and to protect the environment,” said Patrick Smith, vice president at IGS Solar. “We’re proud to partner with Catholic Charities ADW on this critical project to advance energy sustainability and promote responsible energy use.”
In addition, the project will include a five-acre pollinator meadow to support pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies. About 650,000 pollinator and nectar-bearing flowering plants will be at the base of the solar panel array. By reinvigorating pollinator habitats through projects such as this, researchers hope to curb the decline of vital insect species and help bolster the agricultural industry.
“Making productive use of the land under and around ground-mounted solar farms is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new acres of habitat for the butterflies, birds and nature that gives us a sense of peace,” said Rob Davis, director for the Center for Pollinators in Energy. “With plans for a beautiful new flowering solar park, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington are helping to grow this important national trend of pollinator-friendly solar.”
About Catholic Climate Covenant
The Covenant was founded in 2006 with the support of the U.S. Catholic bishops to encourage the U.S. Catholic community to better understand authentic Catholic teaching on climate change and the environment and offer programs and partnerships to spur action. Catholic Energies is a key Covenant program to help reach these goals. CE develops for Catholic institutions practical, turn-key solutions to lower energy costs, provide renewable energy, access financial resources for such projects, use operating cost savings for core mission activities, and be a witness to the wider community.
About Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington (CCADW) is the largest independent social services agency in the Metropolitan-D.C. area. As the charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, CCADW invests in communities by providing critical services to hundreds of thousands of people in need throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. The organization works tirelessly to give help that empowers and hope that lasts to those it serves regardless of background, belief, or circumstance. For more information, visit catholiccharitiesdc.org.
The agency is a member of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). CCUSA, a member of Caritas Internationalis, is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 10 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
With nearly 30 years of experience in the energy industry, the IGS companies provide the following to more than 1 million customers across the country: natural gas, electricity and home protection products; power generation solutions off the grid; clean, domestic alternative fueling options; and solar solutions. The company empowers consumers to make choices that best fit their energy needs. IGS’ community investment program, IGS Impact, provides employees with opportunities to get involved with causes that are meaningful to both the company and to them personally.
About Solar Energy Services, Inc.
Locally owned and operated Solar Energy Services, Inc. has over 40 years of solar experience. SES designs, installs and maintains photovoltaic and solar thermal systems for government, commercial and residential customers in DC, MD, VA, and DE.
IGS Media Contact: David Gilligan
Catholic Charities DC Media Contact: Alexandra Schauffler
Catholic Climate Covenant Media Contact: Dan Misleh
by Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
There's a new energy these days at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Hampton, Virginia.
In mid-June, the southeastern Virginia parish flipped the switch on a 142-kilowatt solar energy system that will generate 100% of the parish's energy use from the sun.
A total of 440 solar panels now dot the roof of the church building. It is the first parish to complete a solar project with Catholic Energies, a program of the Catholic Climate Covenant aimed at helping church organizations implement solar power and energy efficiency projects at no cost to the institution.
We are proud to be serving as project developer to enable economic and environmental benefits for the following Catholic properties…