Catholic Energies, a program begun by the Catholic Climate Covenant, has been helping Catholic institutions connect to low-cost sources of alternative energy since 2017. Recently, it partnered with the solar developers IGS Solar to build a large solar energy system for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. When completed, a 5000-panel solar array will produce 2.7 million kilowatt-hours annually, offsetting nearly 3,400 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
“We went from a fairly small-scale, roof-based system to a larger, ground-based system that provides a much bigger benefit to Catholic Charities,” said Dan Misleh, the executive directory of the Catholic Climate Covenant. “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 eleven cents per kilowatt-hour.”
“Those savings,” he said, “then can go into the core mission of Catholic Charities: to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry and to provide other services for the Archdiocese of Washington.”
The Catholic Climate Covenant began in 2006. “The mission of the Catholic Climate Covenant is to help Catholics understand and act on the issue of climate change,” said Mr. Misleh. “We’re concerned both about God’s gift of creation but also certainly about the people who inhabit the planet, including future generations.”
According to Mr. Misleh, Catholic Energies was being developed around the same time as the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si”. The encyclical, Mr. Misleh said, “really gives the project wings.”
The covenant hopes to expand Catholic Energies’ efforts. “We’re able to reach out to any place in the U.S. that wants to be more energy-efficient,” Mr. Misleh said.