Church to build 5,000-plus solar power panel array

The largest independent social services agency in the District of Columbia (DC) region, Catholic Charities, is about to build DC’s biggest ground-based solar array.

Once built, Catholic Charities says the 2-megawatt array will be the biggest project approved in DC.

The project’s benefits look promising.

Consisting of 5,000-plus panels, the array will provide enough renewable power to offset the energy needs of 12 Catholic Charities’ buildings throughout DC.

The array will generate 2.7 million kilowatt-hours per year – that’s enough to power about 260 houses.

The array is expected to offset an estimated 3,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, about the same as is produced each year from energy use in 370 or so houses.

One of the Catholic Climate Change Covenant’s programmes, Catholic Energies, provided the expertise and financial resources at no cost.

This is in line with its policy to provide its services free of charge to Catholic organisations wanting to “embrace and install solar power and other energy efficiency equipment to help reduce costs, protect our Common Home, and future generations”.

The array project is reportedly the most ambitious Catholic Energies has developed so far.

Catholic Energies will also manage the solar project’s construction.

One of the construction companies engaged for the project, IGS Solar, will own the panels and will be selling renewable energy certificates, so consumers can certify their electricity came from renewable sources.

Although the project costs for investors has not been disclosed, Catholic Charities DC says it estimates hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual energy cost savings.

“We are proud to have this opportunity to take up Pope Francis’s call to action to protect our environment,” Msgr John Enzler says.

Enzler, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities DC, says “Climate change is an urgent issue and we are pleased that this project …[helps reduce] the consumption of fossil fuels …[by] generating solar power.”

The Sustainable DC 2.0 plan aims to make the capital city, Washington DC, its most sustainable city by 2032.

This will be achieved, in part, by increasing renewable energy use by 50 percent and cutting city-wide energy use by the same amount.


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