89.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 30, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesChurch Looks to Sun for Savings

Church Looks to Sun for Savings

Beech Higby of West Indies Solair shows off the solar panels he installed on the roof of St. Ann's Catholic Church.At St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Barren Spot, electric bills were spiraling out of control, and the Rev. Mike Kosak, pastor of the church, looked to the heavens for a solution.

That’s why this month the church finished installation of a 6.6 kilowatt solar-electric system that should take a bite out of the cost of power by converting the sunshine that falls on the new panels of photovoltaic cells on the roof into electricity.

"When we looked at our WAPA bills they were really whoppers," he said, his Brooklyn accent still evident after 40 years at the St. Croix church.

He took the problem to one of his parishioners, Arthur Burton, who runs Burton Consulting Co. Burton took over, applying for a grant from the V.I. Energy Office which financed the project with $50,000 from a grant from the federal American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act.

Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)

On Friday, Joseph Daniel, who oversees the ARRA funds for the Energy Office, Burton, Kosak and contractor Beech Higby of West Indies Solair, who installed the equipment, toured the facility.

Daniel explained that the project was one of 19 funded by a program for nonprofit groups. Such projects have a wide impact, he said, and provide a very public way of showing people the possibilities of alternative energy sources.

St. Ann’s is one of four at or nearing completion. The installation of solar-powered outdoor lighting at the WTJX studio in St. Croix has been completed, and building retrofits at Pistarkle Theater and Nana Baby Home Inc., both on St. Thomas, are almost done.

The panels on the roof generate as much as 350 volts of direct current electricity, depending on the availability of sunlight. The current is carried down to a pair of inverter panels in the generator shed outside the church. There, the panels convert the DC to 240 volt alternating current where it can then be mixed with the current coming in from WAPA’s power grid. The system us "grid-tied," he added, which means that when the grid goes down, the church’s system goes down too. That’s to protect the equipment.

The church hasn’t received a power bill since the system was turned on earlier this month, but that’s expected soon, Burton said. He anticipates it will be about a 10 percent savings, maybe as much as 30 percent. And the more the price of power increases, the greater the savings will be. The value of the project has actually increased between the time work started and the time it was completed because of the rise in electric rates.

Higby said he conservatively estimates the panels will produce 6.6 kilowatts when the sun is shining brightly, which it should on average for at least 4 1/2 hours a day. That would generate a savings of $12 day at current rates, or $4,375 a year.

For Kosak, the decision was easy.

"We’re called to be stewards of the resources given to us," he said, adding that Pope Benedict XVI has called on the church to become more environmentally conscious, more "green."

It’s just a matter of making use of something God has freely provided, the pastor added.

"We’re on an island," Kosak said. "We have plenty of sunshine all year long."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,757FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Beech Higby of West Indies Solair shows off the solar panels he installed on the roof of St. Ann's Catholic Church.At St. Ann's Catholic Church in Barren Spot, electric bills were spiraling out of control, and the Rev. Mike Kosak, pastor of the church, looked to the heavens for a solution.

That's why this month the church finished installation of a 6.6 kilowatt solar-electric system that should take a bite out of the cost of power by converting the sunshine that falls on the new panels of photovoltaic cells on the roof into electricity.

"When we looked at our WAPA bills they were really whoppers," he said, his Brooklyn accent still evident after 40 years at the St. Croix church.

He took the problem to one of his parishioners, Arthur Burton, who runs Burton Consulting Co. Burton took over, applying for a grant from the V.I. Energy Office which financed the project with $50,000 from a grant from the federal American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act.

On Friday, Joseph Daniel, who oversees the ARRA funds for the Energy Office, Burton, Kosak and contractor Beech Higby of West Indies Solair, who installed the equipment, toured the facility.

Daniel explained that the project was one of 19 funded by a program for nonprofit groups. Such projects have a wide impact, he said, and provide a very public way of showing people the possibilities of alternative energy sources.

St. Ann's is one of four at or nearing completion. The installation of solar-powered outdoor lighting at the WTJX studio in St. Croix has been completed, and building retrofits at Pistarkle Theater and Nana Baby Home Inc., both on St. Thomas, are almost done.

The panels on the roof generate as much as 350 volts of direct current electricity, depending on the availability of sunlight. The current is carried down to a pair of inverter panels in the generator shed outside the church. There, the panels convert the DC to 240 volt alternating current where it can then be mixed with the current coming in from WAPA's power grid. The system us "grid-tied," he added, which means that when the grid goes down, the church's system goes down too. That's to protect the equipment.

The church hasn't received a power bill since the system was turned on earlier this month, but that's expected soon, Burton said. He anticipates it will be about a 10 percent savings, maybe as much as 30 percent. And the more the price of power increases, the greater the savings will be. The value of the project has actually increased between the time work started and the time it was completed because of the rise in electric rates.

Higby said he conservatively estimates the panels will produce 6.6 kilowatts when the sun is shining brightly, which it should on average for at least 4 1/2 hours a day. That would generate a savings of $12 day at current rates, or $4,375 a year.

For Kosak, the decision was easy.

"We're called to be stewards of the resources given to us," he said, adding that Pope Benedict XVI has called on the church to become more environmentally conscious, more "green."

It's just a matter of making use of something God has freely provided, the pastor added.

"We're on an island," Kosak said. "We have plenty of sunshine all year long."