Archdiocese unveils array of solar panels

The solar installation is located on the roof of the Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center, 3940 Poplar Level Road, on the campus of Holy Family Church. Together the panels produce about 30 kilowatts of power or about 45,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough to power about four typical residential homes for one year. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

The Archdiocese of Louisville, in partnership with the Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E), unveiled a new solar energy installation during a press conference May 30. The solar project aims to care for creation and encourage others to consider renewable energy.

LG&E mounted an array of 100 solar panels on the roof of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 3940 Poplar Level Road, earlier this month. They began harnessing the sun’s energy last week.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said during the May 30 press conference that the archdiocese wants to be “good citizens.”

“We want to be able to address environmental challenges — that we are all aware of — in a way that we are not simply part of the problem but actually become part of the solution,” he said.

The solar panels, each about the size of a car windshield, are expected to produce about 30 kilowatts of power or about 45,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough to power about four typical residential homes for a year, said David Huff, LG&E director of energy efficiency and emerging technologies.

Solar arrays generate electricity by converting sunlight into energy. The panels produce direct current (DC) power that is fed into an inverter. The inverter converts that energy to alternating current (AC) power, Huff explained.

This is the first diocesan-based solar array in the region, according to a joint press release from the archdiocese and LG&E. It’s also the first system created by LG&E’s new Business Solar Project, which offers customized systems for businesses.

The Business Solar program worked with archdiocesan officials to design a “solar facility that maximizes the space and resources available” and helps meet the archdiocese’s renewable energy goals, said Paul W. Thompson, LG&E’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

LG&E built and installed the panels and will own and operate them. The archdiocese will receive bill credits based on the system’s monthly production.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said the clean, renewable energy effort is “very much grounded in our own commitment in church teaching, in Sacred Scripture” and also in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’.”

In that encyclical, the archbishop said, Pope Francis writes about “the need for us to take care of each other as human beings and the need for us to care for our common home.”

Pope Francis has called “all of us — churches, business, the civic community, neighborhoods and individuals — to have a shared responsibility in caring for others and the gift of God’s creation,” the archbishop said in the press release.

LG&E’s Paul W. Thompson, right, presented a plaque to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz during a May 30 press conference announcing a partnership between LG&E and the Archdiocese of Louisville. Thompson is LG&E’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

“This Business Solar partnership generating renewable energy with LG&E is one of the ways we’re embracing his teaching,” the archbishop said. “It’s our hope that this will motivate other businesses and organizations to begin similar partnerships to help care for our common home, the Earth.”

Dr. Brian B. Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the Archdiocese of Louisville, said the solar project is an opportunity for the local church in Louisville to live out Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment.

“We simply can’t approach our existence to consume every natural resource without accounting what we are doing for future generations,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to be good stewards for what we have while also caring for the future.”

While there are costs associated with the project, Reynolds said the benefits to the community and the environment are greater.

“While we will receive credits on our bills, there is a cost related to this. The credits won’t cover all of the cost. But it’s a cost we chose to bear because of the impact it will have on the environment,” he said.

The array will cost the archdiocese about $10,000 per year, Reynolds said.

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