Solar for St. Gabriel

As part of our parish’s Pope Francis Initiative, we are deepening our commitment to our stewardship of the environment and making wise use of our financial resources with installation of solar panels on the Parish Center/school roof this fall.   Solar for St. Gabriel offers a unique opportunity to make an investment that is morally and spiritually centered, environmentally friendly, and financially prudent.


The timing is right!  

Initially considered 5 years ago, the timing and costs weren't right. However, over the last two years, many factors have come together to support proceeding with the Solar for St. Gabriel project.

  • A new, high efficiency roof has been installed on the Parish Center/school.
  • Solar technology has improved, and costs have dropped significantly.
  • Another planned solar project in the diocese allowed us to negotiate even lower costs.
  • Duke Energy is offering a $75,000 solar project grant to non-profits.

The project will pay for itself

  • Over the 25-year life of the solar panels, we will buy less power (lower electric bills) from Duke Energy.
  • Our investment is approximately $238,000 (after Duke Energy rebate of $75,000).*
  • In less than 10 years, the energy cost savings will have paid for the investment.
  • Energy bill cost savings will allow us to devote financial resources to other parish priorities and community needs.

*Note:  The investment is being made by St. Gabriel Church.  No funds from Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools or the Diocese of Charlotte are being used.


The Three Pillars of the Solar for St. Gabriel Project
 

WE ARE RESPONDING TO A CALL TO ACTION BY POPE FRANCIS

  • The title of Pope Francis’ first encyclical is Laudato Si , which translates to “On Care for our Common Home”.  In this encyclical, the Pope calls us to accept responsibility for the negative impact of our actions on the world’s ecology, accept responsibility and to intentionally choose a corrective and more sustainable path into the future.
  • Pope Francis asks us to think critically about how each of us individually, and collectively, use the resources God has bestowed upon us and how our use of these resources impacts the world around us. We all share this responsibility and are all called to do our part.
  • We are following his call and choosing to lead by example.

WE ARE RESPONDING IN A FISCALLY PRUDENT MANNER

  • We have embraced this effort only after years of consideration and because many factors came together to offer us a particularly attractive financial opportunity to do the right thing.  
  • This project is unique. It is rare that we have an opportunity to invest our resources in a cause that we believe in that will also generate MORE funds to put to good use in the future.
  • In less than ten years, the Solar for St. Gabe’s Project will have paid for itself.
  • The project will last for 25 years. Over this time, we will not only have had a positive impact on the environment but will have generated SIGNIFICANT savings that can be used to support additional charitable activities and efforts going forward.

WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING THE MANY NEEDS OF THE WORLD

  • The commitment to Solar for St. Gabriel Project is part of a broad program (the Pope Francis Initiative) to put God’s gifts to work for the betterment of others.
  • Funding for the project is part of over $800,000 of commitments our parish has made to address the many of the challenges facing society including immigration, disaster relief, poverty, and homelessness.   See details below.
  • St. Gabriel Church remains committed to supporting efforts that reflect the grace of God, his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for assisting us on this journey.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


How did the Solar for St. Gabriel Project come about?
The Solar for St Gabriel Project is part of the broader Pope Francis Initiative (PFI).  In 2015, Fr. Frank and parish leadership reflected on the solid financial position of our parish.  While grateful for the generosity and support of our parishioners, it also led leadership to question whether we were doing enough with “God’s blessings”. While St. Gabriel is and remains a tithing parish, could we follow Pope Francis' call and do more with our resources?

The Pope Francis Initiative was formed and since then, St. Gabriel Church has committed over $800,000 to various programs and projects that serve and support humanity.

The Solar for St. Gabriel Project is a unique opportunity to make an investment that is morally and spiritually centered, environmentally friendly, and financial prudent.

How quickly did the St. Gabe’s Project come to fruition?
While the Solar for St. Gabriel Project came to fruition over the last two years, solar for the St. Gabriel campus was initially considered over five years ago. At that time, while the goal of improving the parish’s environment footprint was deemed important, the timing and cost of a solar project proved too challenging of a hurdle to clear.

Why is the project being done this year?
The Parish Center/school was in need of a new roof, solar technology has improved and costs have dropped significantly.

  • As part of its continuing review of school facilities, the St. Gabriel building committee, in partnership with the Diocese of Charlotte (Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools), agreed that the school roof was at the end of its life and requires replacement.   
  • Additionally, during our solar review process, the parish found out that the Diocese of Charlotte was on a parallel track examining ways to install solar on roofs throughout the diocese. In particular, the diocese was moving forward with a plan to install solar on the Pastoral Center on S. Church St.  Partnering with the diocese and combining the bidding process, we were able to negotiate significant economies of scale. Both projects are moving forward at a significantly lower cost than originally estimated.
  • Finally, Duke Energy recently put in place a program to incentivize non-profits to install solar. As part of our project, St. Gabriel’s has applied for and is receiving a $75,000 cash grant from Duke Energy.

Okay, so what are the numbers associated with the Project?
The Solar for St. Gabriel Project will cost the parish approximately $238,000. The gross cost is approximately $313,000 but the cost will be offset by a $75,000 Duke Energy program rebate.

Going forward St. Gabriel Church will buy less power from Duke Energy because of the power produced from the solar panels. Using historic data from our campus, we estimate that the "payback" period until we recoup our upfront cost is approximately 8.9 years. In other words, in less than ten years, our parish will have saved more money in energy bills than the total cost of the project.

Solar projects have an estimated life of 25 years! Therefore, over 25 years, St. Gabriel will not only have had a positive impact on the environment but will have generated SIGNIFICANT savings. This money can be donated or directed to support other church priorities.

Why is Solar a priority when there are so many other needs in the community and the world?
In addition to being a ‘profitable’ financial transaction that creates savings to support other worthy causes, the Solar for St. Gabriel Project is just one of a long list of efforts that St. Gabriel parish has undertaken to improve the world around us and better the lives of others.

The following are some of the $800,000 worth of programs vetted by the Pope Francis Initiative and supported by the generosity of our parishioners above and beyond our annual Tithing effort:

  • Immigration assistance for Catholic Charities
  • Water for Kenya through Catholic Relief Services
  • Chemin Lavi Miyo, Aid to the most impoverished women of Haiti through the Sisters of Mercy
  • Hurricane Relief for Haiti
  • Hurricane Relief for Eastern North Carolina
  • Disaster relief for Port Blair, India through Bishop Alex Dias
  • A grant for Charlotte Family Housing
  • Sponsorship of a home through Habitat for Humanity
  • Housing for the developmentally disabled through InReach

Have questions?  Contact Finance Committee member Chris Brown by email.

 
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