Catholic Energies helps entire Richmond, Virginia Diocese go solar (7 projects total)

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Seven Catholic communities in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, which stretches across much of Virginia, have completed or nearly completed solar projects with Catholic Energies this summer, representing a substantial injection of solar power across the Diocese’s churches and schools. The combined projects will generate over 1.6 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year for decades and save the churches more than $2 million in energy operating costs during the term of their solar agreements.

The Diocesan projects are being developed in partnership with Catholic Energies, a service of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Catholic Climate Covenant, which helps guide the U.S. Church’s response on climate change and care for creation. Catholic Energies was able to obtain the total capital costs of the seven projects from a single investor source.

“Nearly $3 million in total installation capital costs were secured by Catholic Energies on behalf of the Diocese and its parishes,” said Dan Last, Catholic Energies Program Manager. “This is one of our largest collections of projects to date.”

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The Richmond Diocese solar projects are:

Church of St Therese, Chesapeake: 100 kW

100 kilowatts in size generating 129,000 kW hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, which in total will offset about 82% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 2,900 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

Roanoke Catholic School, Roanoke, 61 kW

61 kilowatts in size generating 78,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, which will offset about 16% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 2,800 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

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Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, Richmond, 108 kW

108 kilowatts in size generating 132,500 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, in total offsets about 98% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 4,200 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

Diocese of Richmond Pastoral Center, Richmond, 245 kW

245 kilowatt in size generating 317,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, in total offsets about 84% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 11,000 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

Sacred Heart Church, Danville, 230 kW

230 kilowatts in size generating 267,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, which in total will offset about 89% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 7,800 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

St. Pius X Church, Norfolk, 316 kW

316 kilowatts in size generating 400,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, in total offsets about 71% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 9,500 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years

Church of the Holy Family, Virginia Beach, 253 kW

253 kilowatts in size generating 306,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, plus a reduction in energy consumption from LED lighting, in total offsets about 87% of their annual historical energy requirement; estimated to reduce their carbon footprint by about 7,100 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years.

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More on Catholic Energies

For Catholic churches and organizations that wish to install solar power and other energy-efficiency equipment, Catholic Energies serves as a one-stop project developer. Parishes always have the option to pay upfront or finance their solar projects. However, a third-party financing model for nonprofits continues to grow in popularity in Virginia, especially after the recent passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which seeks for the state to move toward 100% renewable energy.

Through a Power Purchase Agreement the churches pay no upfront costs for solar projects. Instead, Catholic Energies secures third-party investors who will pay for the entire solar project. In return, the investor receives tax credits, plus regular payments from the church for the solar-generated power. The price the Catholic institution pays for the solar power is generally a discounted rate compared to their current utility power rate, which allows them to save on operating costs each month, year over year. The institution has options throughout the Power Purchase Agreement to purchase the solar panel system outright. Parishes can also complete LED lighting retrofits to save energy and costs though the Power Purchase Agreement. Most of the Diocese of Richmond projects were completed through a Power Purchase Agreement and are also completing LED retrofits.

“It’s probably the best time ever in the history of the state of Virginia to make an investment in solar,” said Page Gravely, head of client services at Catholic Energies.

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