This is an example of the solar farm the Diocese of Albany will use to lower its electric bills and support clean energy through solar power. The Pastoral Center in Albany should be online by September. Istockphoto.com file photo
This is an example of the solar farm the Diocese of Albany will use to lower its electric bills and support clean energy through solar power. The Pastoral Center in Albany should be online by September. Istockphoto.com file photo

Let the sun shine — because the Diocese of Albany is going solar!

The Diocese has selected Nexamp to provide community solar that will lower its electric bills and enable it to support clean energy without having to make any investments or install any equipment on its property.


“We are always looking for ways to better care for God’s creation, both as individuals and as a Church. Accessing available solar power in our Diocese is one way we can begin to reduce our footprint and allow our parishes and people to do the same,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. “This is not only in keeping with the spirit of Laudato Si’ — Pope Francis’ encyclical that focuses on our call to be good stewards of the earth — but it is in keeping with the spirit of the Gospel. It’s also a healthy choice and it makes economic sense, so it’s a win-win.”


Nexamp’s community solar farm in Brunswick (Rensselaer County) is a 5.5 megawatt facility featuring 16,000 solar panels capable of generating enough power for more than 500 average homes. The Diocese is beginning with an allocation from the farm that covers the power used by its Pastoral Center in Albany and expects to subscribe to additional capacity for other buildings in the future. 


“Good stewardship of our resources, both financial and natural, is a responsibility we take very seriously,” says Paul Ehmann, director of the Office of Real Property for the Diocese. “Climate change is a real threat in the world today, and the Pope has called us specifically to do our part in implementing solutions that are sustainable on both an environmental and social level. So for us, the opportunity to easily save money and reduce our carbon footprint through community solar made this decision an obvious one.” 


The Diocese analyzed the options for going solar — either installing expensive equipment on its facility or subscribing to a local community solar farm — and decided that community solar was the right approach. With no upfront costs, nothing to install and no long-term contracts, the Diocese will save 10 percent on its monthly electricity costs and will be supporting the generation of clean, renewable energy for the local power grid. 


The Diocese should be up and running by late August or early September, Ehmann said. Individual parishes will be invited to join, with Nexamp going to parishes to help them understand the process, Ehmann added.


“We believe that clean energy should be accessible to everyone, regardless of location, finances or any other variable,” notes Nexamp CEO Zaid Ashai. “For an organization such as the RCDA, community solar aligns well with its commitment to the environment and a desire to make its dollars stretch further. We look forward to working with Paul and his team to expand the program to other facilities in the RCDA portfolio, as well as educating parishioners about the opportunities for their residences.” 


Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’  (Praise Be to You): On Care for Our Common Home,” which was released in 2015, is a call to action for the world’s faithful to fight global warming and climate change and to find new means of energy.


“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas — needs to be progressively replaced without delay,” the Pope said in the encyclical. “Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the less harmful alternative or to find short-term solutions.”


In June of 2018, the Pope met with oil and energy executives, imploring them to be leaders on the environment, saying “civilization requires energy, but energy must not be used to destroy civilization!”  


For more information on Nexamp’s community solar programs, visit www.capitaldistrictsolar.info.