The 624 solar panels are out of sight on a hill behind the monastery


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, Colorado. General and design contract services for the

solar system were provided by Sunsense of Carbondale, Colorado 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.”

St. Benedict's Monastery | 1012 Monastery Road | Snowmass, Colorado 81654

    970/279-4400 | EMAIL