On Friday, the Sisters of St. Benedict, St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, flipped the switch to activate newly installed Solar Photovoltaic arrays on their property in southwest Rock Island.
The completed installation of two separate arrays is comprised of 1,148 solar panels, and will provide power for both St. Mary Monastery and Benet House Retreat Center, a news release says.
The Solar Energy project is a result of the Sisters’ goal to care for creation by living with a minimal carbon footprint. The solar panels will meet the vast majority of the Sisters’ energy needs in a project that comes as part of a larger, ongoing focus on living sustainably.
For several years, the St. Mary Monastery community explored ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The Illinois Solar for All initiative offers Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) to eligible Non-Profit Organizations. This made a long-awaited solar project feasible and affordable. One array will send electricity to the monastery to meet up to 98% of the annual electricity needs, and the second array will meet up to 80% of the needs for Benet House Retreat Center.
The Sisters partnered with Day and Night Solar, Tri-City Electric Co., Mid-American Energy, Central Road LLC, and the City of Rock Island to make this project possible.
“We are extremely excited to transition to renewable energy and feel blessed to collaborate with the partners needed for this investment. This has been a long process, making the project even more rewarding,” said Jeff Streit, finance director at the monastery.
Since 2001, when the Sisters moved to Rock Island from Nauvoo, Ill., the community has continued to seek ways to live a life that cares for creation while reducing their negative impact on the climate. The monastery and Benet House use geothermal heating and cooling, LED lights, a rain garden, a green elevator, and allow land, as much as possible, to remain wild.
“Along with Pope Francis, we are concerned about keeping the earth – our common home – a place of life and beauty for all peoples, both now and into the future. Any actions we can take to do our part in this endeavor profit not only us, but the world,” said Prioress Sister Susan Hutchens.