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Back Local News Archdiocese adopts solar energy

Archdiocese adopts solar energy

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WITH more than 300 solar panels recently installed on top of their Chancery in San Ramon Hill, the Archdiocese of Agana adds a notch to its growing renewable energy portfolio – the second photovoltaic system installed by the archdiocese after completing its first project at the Yoña-based St. Francis School.

Even before the much-awaited installation of its third system at the Bishop Baumgartner Catholic School in Sinajaña, the archdiocese takes credit for being one of – if not the largest – private user of renewable energy on the island.

Once the third project is completed, the archdiocese will have 267 kilowatts of photovoltaic generation in place, which is sufficient to support 40 homes using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.

In the first 10 years of operation, more than $100,000 in utility savings can be expected from these installations.

Pacific Solar & Photovoltaics Inc. installed the systems for the archdiocese. The company began working in the solar and photovoltaics industry in 2008 and installed the first Guam Power Authority-approved net metering project in February 2009.

Since then, the company has completed numerous projects on private homes, commercial sites, government buildings and military installations.

William Hagen, who represents Pacific Solar & Photovoltaics, said they are working with the archdiocese and a private funding source to provide as much renewable energy as possible for the archdiocese.

“I think we cover around 90 percent of their power. As soon as the light hits the panel, it starts producing power,” Hagen said.

Savings

The power produced by the 300-plus panels at the chancery passes through an inverter which converts the power, from the roof, to match the voltage and the frequency of the power coming into the building from GPA.

The surplus power produced by the system is then pushed on to GPA’s grid, causing the power meter to turn backwards.

“That is the principle. It is not for emergency power, it is not for back-up power, it is strictly for saving energy,” Hagen said.

A power purchase agreement entered into by the archbishop and an independent power producer, or IPP, made the system-generated savings possible. The system was installed under a long-term lease agreement at no expense to the diocese.

In turn, the IPP sells power to the archdiocese at an initial rate equal to 80 percent of current utility rates. In 10 years, it is expected that the rate being charged by the IPP will be reduced to about 60 percent of the rate being charged by the utility at that time, and savings will continue to increase for the 25-year life of the agreement, a news release stated.

Future

Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who dedicated and blessed the panels yesterday, said the archdiocese became interested in the project because the final result would generate savings in funds and electrical power.

“We know that power continues to rise. So we are very concerned that it will keep going up instead of going down,” Apuron said.

He said they are expected to save at least $750 a month or almost $8,000 a year with the new system in place.

Most importantly, he added, the system is also conducive to the environment by harnessing renewable energy from the sun.

“Hopefully the other schools will be attracted to it and hopefully they will enter into this kind of venture. Maybe we can be an example for the private homes – to show that they can really save through this system,” Apuron concluded.

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