The 624 solar panels are out of sight on a hill behind the monastery
THE NEW PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM
On January 3, 2019, after 2 ½ years of planning and construction, St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass began operation of a 624 panel ground mount solar photovoltaic system designed to generate 204 Kw and provide 100% of electrical energy required for the operation of the monastery and retreat house.
The solar array occupies a 1/5 acre parcel of uphill sloping contoured land
immediately behind the main building and is not visible at ground level.
Under the direction of Fr. Joseph Boyle, late Abbot of St. Benedict’s, the project
was conceived not only to reduce the cost for electrical energy to run the
monastery operations, but in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the
environment to help reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the
environment. Holy Cross Energy estimates that the photovoltaic system
installed at the monastery will prevent 486,000 lbs. of CO2 from entering the
Energy generated from the solar array will be fed directly into the Holy Cross
Energy electrical grid, with Holy Cross providing credit to the monastery for each
kilowatt hour produced. Under the terms of a 20-year agreement, the surplus
produced in excess of the monastery’s needs will be credited to St. Benedict’s at
the prevailing retail rate to provide funding for the maintenance of the system.
The total cost of the project was $498,600, funded by St. Benedict’s Monastery,
grants from the Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation and Schumann Media
Center, and a Randy Udall Pioneer Grant from the Community Office for
Resource Efficiency in Aspen, CO. General and design contract services for the
solar system were provided by Sunsense of Carbondale, CO utilizing labor and
subcontractors locally sourced.
In an interview conducted on the first day of operation, Fr. Charles Albanese,
recently elected successor to Abbot Joseph Boyle, stated that the project
continues the tradition of respect for the environment and care of the land
which has always been a fundamental value of Cistercian monastic life and
practice. “This place—this sacred valley—is a gift from God to cherish and our
privilege and responsibility to preserve. We are grateful to all who assisted us
in the successful completion of this project.”
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