It wasn’t so long ago we brought you word that green builder Blu Homes would be bringing green faculty housing to Portsmouth Abbey, a Catholic school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Now, in another instance of good faith toward the environment, the Catholic Diocese of Trenton (which spans Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey) has installed two solar power systems.
Solis Partners reports that it has completed the installation of a 78.75-kilowatt ground-mounted system for Church of the Assumption, located in the Burlington County community of North Hanover Township, and a 155-kilowatt ground-mounted system at St. Mary’s Church, located in the Monmouth County Township of Colts Neck. Construction on both projects started last fall, and both systems are now said to be up and running.
The systems, which collectively are expected to offset around 85 percent of the parishes’ annual electricity usage, were installed under an increasingly popular style of third-party power purchase agreement that allows companies like Solis to retain ownership of the system, eliminating upfront costs to the churches. In this particular case, the solar installer holds onto the systems for 15 years, during which time it maintains and operate them, with the clean energy generated being sold to the parishes at a 75 percent discount to what they were paying their utilities.
This is expected, according to Solis, to reduce the churches’ electric bills by approximately $600,000 over the next 15 years. After 15 years, the churches will assume ownership of the system, thus receiving free electricity for the remainder of the system’s life, which is believed to be more than 25 years.
According to the News Transcript, the installation at St. Mary’s Church consists of 686 solar panels over 1.25 acres, which started providing energy to the church in early February. The church’s business manager, Joseph Noble, told the newspaper, “This renewable energy project is an important step in our fulfillment to our commitment to the environment.” He went on to note that he hopes that the diocese’s installation of these solar power systems will influence other churches and people to follow suit.