In 2017, the Catholic Climate Covenant launched Catholic Energies, a program that helps Catholic organizations to become more environmentally friendly by providing them low-cost sources of alternative energy.
Recently, Catholic Energies partnered with IGS Solar and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington to build a large solar energy system in Washington, D.C. According to a press release, the new project “will host the 2-megawatt system comprising more than 5,000 panels” to give Catholic Charities “more than 2.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, nearly 100% of the current power requirements for CCADW’s real estate portfolio across the city.” Additionally, the project will “offset nearly 3,400 tons of CO2 emissions per year.”
“We went from a fairly small-scale roof-based system to a larger, ground-based system that provides a much bigger benefit to Catholic Charities,” said Dan Misleh, the executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. “It essentially takes away the cost of electricity for all Catholic Charities buildings. It lowers their rate to about two cents per kilowatt-hour, from about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Those savings then can go into the core mission of Catholic Charities: to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry [and] to provide other services for the Archdiocese of Washington.”
“We’re concerned both about God’s gift of creation but also certainly about the people who inhabit the planet, including future generations.”
The Catholic Climate Covenant began in 2006 to raise awareness in Catholic communities about the importance of applying Catholic teaching on the environment to practical needs. “The mission of the Catholic Climate Covenant is to help Catholics understand and act on the issue of climate change,” said Mr. Misleh. “We’re concerned both about God’s gift of creation but also certainly about the people who inhabit the planet, including future generations.”
According to Mr. Misleh, Catholic Energies was being developed around the same time as the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si’.” The encyclical, Mr. Misleh said, “really gave the project wings” by illustrating the importance of protecting the environment to Catholics.
Catholic Energies offers no-cost counseling to parishes, schools, hospitals and other Catholic organizations. “[We] demonstrate to them how they can save money and reduce their carbon emissions through smart solar energy projects,” he said.
He described how much “time and money” it takes for a group to become more energy efficient and how that additional expense often makes the effort not worth the hassle. “What Catholic Energies does is come in and say, ‘Look, we can take care of all of these steps and provide for you,’” he explained.
The Catholic Climate Covenant is also planning to expand Catholic Energies. It is reaching out to communities in Illinois and Iowa and is already launching multiple projects in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
“We’re able to reach out to any place in the U.S. that wants to be more energy efficient,” Mr Misleh said.