Installing Solar Panels
Sinsinawa Celebrates Sun Energy
The solar array behind St. Dominic Villa at Sinsinawa. Photo by Eileen Dushek-Manthe.
On Nov. 26, the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa together with installer Eagle Point Solar, Focus on Energy, and RENEW Wisconsin celebrated the installation of three solar arrays at Sinsinawa Mound. The Sisters held a blessing and a ribbon-cutting for the panels as part of the celebration.
Eagle Point Solar of Dubuque, IA, completed the three solar installations on Mound property in October. The three arrays will directly supply power to the wastewater treatment plant, well house, and St. Dominic Villa. Each solar array will offset the Congregation’s electric use by 30 percent, saving the organization over $35,000 in annual utility costs.
“This is a shining example of a public-private partnership that provides genuine economic and environmental benefits,” said Jim Pullen, general manager of Eagle Point Solar. “We are proud to have worked with RENEW Wisconsin and the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters to make this possible.”
The solar installation was made possible in part by Solar for Good, an initiative from the renewable energy advocates at RENEW Wisconsin. Solar for Good is primarily funded by philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard of Deerfield, WI. The Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters received a $20,000 grant from Solar for Good in 2017 to assist in the funding of the solar arrays.
“This project represents an incredible investment in solar power,” said Sam Dunaiski, program manager for RENEW Wisconsin. “This is by far our largest Solar for Good project to date. It’s three-times the size of the next largest project and generates enough electricity to power over 50 homes.”
The Congregation also received a $60,000 grant from Focus on Energy, a statewide program that offers information, services, and financial incentives to help residents and businesses select and install cost-effective solutions that save energy and money. “Partnering with Alliant Energy, Focus on Energy is proud to support the Sinsinawa Dominicans,” stated Mark Lydon, an energy advisor with Focus on Energy. “The $60,000 incentive helps to accelerate the system’s payback by approximately two years. Over its lifetime, this array will have the same effect as the avoidance of burning 3,000 tons of coal.”
In addition to the rebates from Solar for Good and Focus on Energy, the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters made a substantial upfront investment to pay for the solar array. The Congregation invested over $400,000 to fund the remainder of the project. “The installation of the solar energy systems is part of our Dominican commitment to respond to Pope Francis’ urgent summons of Laudato Si’ to care for Earth, our home,” said Angelo Collins, OP, who serves on the Leadership Council of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa.
“We recognize Sinsinawa Mound as a sacred place entrusted to our care,” said Sinsinawa Mound Chief Operations Officer Ray Hess. “With that in mind, we are taking a step forward in reducing our carbon footprint through solar energy.”
To date, Solar for Good has awarded over $200,000 in grants, resulting in over $1.6 million in new solar projects. Grants have been issued to 21 Wisconsin nonprofit organizations including houses of worship, veterans’ services, and schools. These nonprofits will produce 730kW of clean, renewable electricity, enough to power nearly 150 homes.