Sisters of St. Dominic Go Solar! - EmPower Solar

Sisters of St. Dominic Go Solar!


The Sisters of St. Dominic of Long Island have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their contribution to the environment. From their on-site organic farm in Amityville, the geothermal system at the Motherhouse, to the hybrid vehicles that they drive, the Sisters have taken many steps over the years to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize their impact.

For many years, Homecoming Farm, a certified organic CSA project was one of the Sister’s major environmental initiatives. In late 2014, the Long Island-based Sisters asked themselves “what’s next?” They took a close look at their goals and what they saw as the next piece of their mission. The vision was clear; they want to leave the planet better than they found it and encourage others to do the same by acting as a positive example. This was all being considered around the same time that Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment.

In the 2015 encyclical, entitled “Laodato Si”, the Pope encourages the faithful to take on an ecological conversion. “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” Pope Francis wrote. This sentiment especially resonated with the Sisters of St. Dominic, who are as forward-looking as they are present.

“We sisters, with Pope Francis, recognize human induced global climate change to be among  the most serious issues facing the global community today. “Going solar” even in a modest way, gives us the opportunity to make some small contribution toward the mitigation of this problem” said Sister Margaret Galliardi, a leader on the project.

Together with Sunpower by EmPower Solar, the Sisters assessed many options for solar panels both at the motherhouse and many of the individual sites. They identified several properties most viable for solar and began there.

In summer of 2016, work began at the Malverne apartment. Housing seven sisters, the house is now 100% powered by the sun with a home solar system that generates 10,300 kilowatt hours per year. “The installation of the solar panels went well and to date, the utility bills have been greatly reduced” said Sister Louise Raab, a resident of the Malverne apartment.

The Amityville Apartments shortly followed suit, installing a home solar system that cover over 100% of the buildings’ energy needs, with the surplus energy used to credit the mother house electric account.

“The Sisters of St. Dominic are some of the most inspirational and motivating people we’ve ever worked with.  The entire EmPower team comes away more dedicated than ever to make solar the dominant energy source” said David Schieren, CEO of SunPower by EmPower Solar.

The Sisters will be able to monitor their system’s energy production in real time and can measure their actual environmental impact over the 30+ year life of the solar panels. Altogether, the systems are projected to produce 40,269 kWh of energy per year. If the same amount of energy had been produced via coal, that would mean CO2 emissions of 29,992lbs. That’s a lot of avoided greenhouse gas emissions! This equates to removing 6 vehicles from the road each year.

While the Sisters of St. Dominic have always supported and promoted energy efficiency and renewable energy, they now lead by example. The Sisters proudly show off their solar panels and plan to use their experience as a tool to help further educate their communities and to encourage others to make the switch to clean, renewable energy.

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