Page Gravely, who manages client services for Catholic Energies, said the project can serve as a model for how other nonprofits can utilize solar energy.
“A lot of solar developers have, frankly ignored that market,” he said. “The nonprofit market is so large. There are a lot of nonprofits that own real estate and should not be excluded from this.”
The rooftop array at the Pastoral Center is expected to generate about 317,000 kW hours of clean electricity per year, which along with the installation of LED lighting at the center will offset about 84% of its annual historical energy requirement. The estimated reduction in its carbon footprint will be about 11,000 metric tons of CO2 over 25 years.
Combined, the Virginia projects are expected to generate more than 1.6 million kW hours of clean electricity each year for decades while saving the churches and schools more than $2 million in energy operating costs.
Charles Mikell, director of real estate for the diocese, said he was skeptical about the viability of the solar projects at first.
“I’m old-school,” said Mikell, who joined the diocese in 2019 after a long career in civil engineering working on major construction projects around the country.
“I really had to be sold from a financial standpoint and from an electrical standpoint,” he said. “The more and more research I did and actually talked with people that had this installed before, they said, ‘It really does help, our electric bill has gone down.'”