The company that has already made an impact in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. is planning to expand.
Catholic Energies is a non-profit group that has made it their mission to provide cheap, renewable sources of power to Catholic communities. Although they’ve only been around for a couple of years, they’ve already made a big impact on the East Coast and now they’re planning to expand their project, with the goal of taking it nationwide.
Launched in 2017 by parent organization Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), Catholic Energies has already completed several projects, the grandest of which is a 5,000-panel solar installation in Washington, D.C. When it’s completed, in early 2020, the solar energy system will provide electricity for 12 Catholic Charities-owned properties and will cut their power bills by nearly 80%.
Catholic Energies explains that approximately 70% of church building ownership costs are in operations and capital expenditures. By freeing up the majority of these expenses with renewable energy, their work allows more money to be put into charitable works. Dan Misleh, the executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, told Kevin Christopher Robles of America Magazine:
“It essentially takes away the cost of electricity for all Catholic Charities buildings. It lowers their rate to about two cents per kilowatt-hour, from about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Those savings then can go into the core mission of Catholic Charities: to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry [and] to provide other services …”
Catholic Climate Covenant began in 2006, with the goal of spreading awareness of the Catholic responsibility to prevent climate change. They were developing Catholic Energies around the same time that Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si’.”
Answering Pope Francis’ call to action, Catholic Energies offers no-cost counseling to Catholic institutions on the possibility of renewable energy sources. From there, the nonprofit conducts the legwork of finding investors for the project, who foot the whole bill in exchange for federal tax credits and state-level incentives, which vary depending on the state.
By the time Catholic Energies is done, the the community that benefits from their work only has to pay the bare minimum for upkeep and what power the solar system does not produce. Catholic Energies further decreases the bill by paying its five employees from a break-even developer’s fee, which is less than the industry standard of 15%.
The last two years have been so successful for Catholic Energies that the CCC is planning to expand the operation. They are already reaching out to Catholic Charities in Iowa and Illinois, as well as opening new projects in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C..
“We’re able to reach out to any place in the U.S. that wants to be more energy efficient,” Mr Misleh said.
If you are a member of a Catholic community or charity that is interested in working with Catholic Energies to develop a system of clean, renewable energy for a Catholic church, school, hospital, or other institution, contact Catholic Enegies here.