Solar project is expected to generate approximately 20% of the Archdiocese’s electricity needs Archbishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, joined with Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation and a leading competitive retail energy supplier, in announcing today the construction of a 5.4-megawatt (DC) aggregate solar generation project. The solar power system, located at Perryman Station in Harford County, MD, is expected to generate enough electricity to meet approximately 20 percent of the Archdiocese’s electricity needs.
“Pope Francis has invited the Church and all of us to take steps to responsibly care for our common home,” Archbishop William E. Lori said. “This new solar power system will allow us not only to better manage our energy costs and devote more funding to the many important programs and ministries we have in place to support our community, but also to educate our parishioners about sustainable initiatives.”
The project expands Constellation’s role as the No. 1 solar energy producer in Maryland. The company operates more than 35 megawatts of solar projects in the state and expects to have an additional 25 megawatts operational by the end of 2015.
The project required no upfront capital from the Archdiocese. Constellation will own and operate the solar power system. The Archdiocese will purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels from Constellation under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
“Constellation is committed to supporting renewable energy in Maryland, and we are pleased to help the Archdiocese better manage their energy costs through supporting this solar power project,” said Mark Huston, president of Constellation Retail. “This system will allow them to devote more funding to important community programs and share the importance of clean energy resources with their parishioners.”
The solar power system will be composed of approximately 17,700 photovoltaic panels and is expected to generate approximately 7.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year. Generating the same amount of electricity using nonrenewable sources would result in the release of approximately 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent emissions from 1,045 passenger vehicles annually, according to U.S. EPA data for the region.
In June 2015, the Archdiocese entered into an agreement with the Baltimore Tree Trust, whose mission is to make Baltimore a healthier city by restoring the 30 percent tree canopy lost over the last 50 years. Under the agreement, the Baltimore Tree Trust will plant, water and maintain trees at Catholic churches and schools for the next two years at no cost.
The Archdiocese views the partnerships with Constellation and the Baltimore Tree Trust as an important part of its ongoing commitment to practicing sound environmental stewardship, in keeping with Pope Francis’ call in his 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Sí.