RUTLAND — St. Peter Parish in Rutland has entered the solar energy age, the first parish in the state Roman Catholic Diocese to install money-saving solar panels to generate electricity. St. Peter’s received a $20,000 grant from Green Mountain Power and a $6,000 contribution from Rutland-based Same Sun of Vermont Inc. which installed the panels.
The project is part of ongoing parish efforts that included weatherization of the rectory and installation of energy-saving LED light bulbs — to conserve both energy and funds and “in line” with Pope Francis’ call to care for “our common home,” the Earth, said Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin Father Thomas Houle, pastor.
Father Houle said the parish’s care of the environment concern is not just about the economic benefits but “to protect God’s creation” for future generations.
Parishioner Joseph Barbagallo, a retired Central Vermont Public Service system coordinator, coordinated the solar panel project for St. Peter. About two years ago he learned that Green Mountain Power, the parish’s electric utility, had grants available for the installation of solar panels.
In its first 10 days, the solar panels produced $57 worth of electricity. “We anticipate that will be higher as the days get longer and the sun brighter,” Barbagallo said.
The solar panels will offset the cost of electricity for the parish rectory; the bill for fiscal year 2014-2015 was about $2,500, according to Ellen Kane, executive director of development and the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.