By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Stewardship of resources is important to a community and St. Gabriel School officially kicked off a new step in stewardship by celebrating the installation and dedication of new solar panels on the school’s roof. The ceremony took place the morning of Nov. 12.
The students, kindergarteners through eighth graders, watched a slide show of the three recently installed 25 kilowatt arrays, each of which will generate approximately 33,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Father Joseph Sharbel, pastor of St. Gabriel Church and Judy Marsh, school principal, spoke to the assembled students about the solar energy, what it meant to the school and how it would affect the students. Energy literacy, understanding how it is produced, how it is used and how it can be conserved, is a component in environmental stewardship.
Wearing sunglasses, several students joined Marsh and Father Sharbel as he cut the ribbon on a solar panel, commissioning the soar-energy system on the roof.
It all started earlier this year, Marsh said, when St. Gabriel contracted with Brightergy, a Kansas City-based company that markets distributed energy solutions, to install a rooftop solar energy system. “The system produces clean, emission-free renewable energy which is not only cost efficient but environmentally friendly, helping to reduce the carbon footprint.”
Following the installation, the solar energy system was to be turned on before the end of November. St. Gabriel’s solar energy systems are being leased with no up-front costs through Brightergy’s 20-year lease program, BrighterLease. The lease program was made possible through lower solar prices, Kansas City Power and Light rebates and federal tax credits for energy conservation.
There are about 100 solar panels in each solar array or system, comprising a total of approximately 300 panels on the roof of St. Gabriel School.
The three solar arrays are designed to produce 99,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually which would power three, three bedroom ranch houses in Missouri for one year. The electricity will be produced on the school’s roof and used immediately by the school to power everything from lights to computers.
St. Gabriel School teacher Mary Stewart offered some facts about solar energy and its environmental benefits. The annual environmental benefit of the school’s solar array will be the equivalent of planting nearly 1,800 tree seedlings; recycling 26.2 tons of waste instead of sending it to a landfill; or eliminating about 154,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Father Sharbel emphasized to the kids at St. Gabriel’s that “it is vitally important for us to protect the planet by being responsible citizens and good stewards of the environment.”
The solar panels on the school roof are another step in that direction.
To learn more about clean energy and solar power, visit www.epa.gov.cleanenergy/energy-recources/calculator.html#results.