On May 24, 2018, The Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood, along with NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, EmPower Solar, PSEG, and many environmental partners, celebrated the official completion of their 1MW solar system and sustainable rain garden on the Sisters of St. Joseph campus in Brentwood, Long Island, New York. The system is expected to offset approximately 63 percent of the current campus electricity needs.

To view photos from the sunny solar event click here: 

“We’re proud to partner with the Sisters of St. Joseph to supply renewable energy to their campus,” said Matt Handel, vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. “By putting unused land to use generating clean, cost-effective solar energy, the Sisters of St.Joseph can achieve their sustainability goals and receive long-term value from an abundant natural resource.”

The ground-mounted fixed-array system, co-developed and installed by Long Island-based EmPower Solar is located on approximately five acres owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In accordance with the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Sustainable Land Ethic Statement, a five-acre parcel designated as degraded woodlands was chosen to host the array and a new rain garden. More thn 50 trees were saved from the wooded area and were transplanted elsewhere on the property.

“The Sisters of St. Joseph are committed to the preservation of all life on our planet and truly delighted to use some of our sacred land to create a non-polluting, clean, reliable and renewable source of energy,” said Sister Helen Kearney, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “As Sisters of St. Joseph, we have a 160-year tradition of responding to the needs of the times, and this new solar array, along with our other environmental initiatives in Brentwood, furthers our mission and balances our communal needs and the needs of the Earth.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph will purchase the electricity from the solar project at a pre-determined rate over the term of a 25-year power purchase agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, which will be responsible for maintenance and operation of the system. The Sisters of St. Joseph estimate a potential first-year savings of approximately $22,000, with further savings possible through the years if traditional utility rates increase.

“We couldn’t be prouder to have worked with the Sisters of St. Joseph to further their Land Ethic Initiative,” says David G. Schieren, CEO of EmPower Solar. “This project demonstrates the power of effective stakeholder collaboration and integrated sustainability planning needed for a large scale project like this one. From the organic farms to the acres of open space and preserved forests, this property is a hidden gem and is now home to the town’s largest solar array,” added Schieren.

The system interconnects to PSEG Long Island, the local utility company, which will provide net metering credits to the Sisters of St. Joseph to offset their electric bill.

“With this new solar array, the Sisters of St. Joseph are living their mission and helping to create a cleaner, greener, healthier future for their community,” said Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables, PSEG Long Island. “By reducing their energy costs, the Sisters will be able to direct the money they save every month toward other needs within their ministry.”

The motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood includes 212 acres of land, some still pristine, acquired more than 100 years ago within the bioregion of Long Island. The Sisters affirmed a Land Ethic Statement on March 21, 2015 and, in response to the statement, members of the congregation have formed new partnerships on Long Island, gathered information about the Long Island bioregion, implemented new initiatives, and continued current ecological projects. For more information, please visit https://brentwoodcsj.org/ecology/