Harnessing the Sun at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
Written by: Trudi Jenny, St. Thomas Aquinas
Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish on Madison’s Westside has recently installed a 72-panel solar array on their roof. The 335-watt panels were installed in February and became fully operational on March 4th after being commissioned by Madison Gas and Electric. The installation launched Phase 1 of the parish’s Make Disciples Capital Campaign. The new installation is expected to lower the parish’s carbon footprint by 10% and provide 10% of the electricity needed to power the church. The annual energy savings are expected to be $3,000 with the system paying for itself in approximately 13 years.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” Fr. Bart Timmerman, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, said: “We are able to more fully live out our discipleship, following Jesus by how we live our lives, when we are caring for our common home—our environment. We have a commitment as Catholics to reduce our carbon footprint and to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. The fact that this is the first project we are investing in as part of our Capital Campaign speaks to our strong commitment to care for creation.”
The total cost of the project was close to $53,000 and was funded through grants totaling about $15,000: $10,000 from Solar for Good and $4,600 from Focus on Energy, with the balance coming from parishioner pledges to the Capital Campaign. The parish is grateful to Solar for Good and Focus on Energy for their support, to SunVest Solar, Inc., our solar development company and the installation contractor, Endries Solar LLC.
The Saint Thomas Care for Creation Team encouraged the inclusion of the project in the Capital Campaign in an effort to reduce the parish’s carbon footprint. The Team formed in 2016 upon the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ and has sponsored a number of programs over the past 5 years to encourage parish involvement in caring for our common home. They are looking forward to the day when all can gather for a blessing and celebration of the solar panel installation.