Plymouth firm doing solar system for Sacred Heart

The School Sisters of Saint Francis, an international congregation of Catholic sisters based in Milwaukee, has contracted for a 375 kW solar system to be installed at Sacred Heart, a continuum of care residence at 1545 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee.

An array of more than 1,000 solar panels will be installed by Plymouth-based Arch Electric.

The panels are being supplied by Seraphim Solar USA Manufacturing, Inc., a leading, Tier 1 manufacturer of high-efficiency, photovoltaic modules, based in Jackson, Miss.

This project is one of the largest institutional rooftop solar installations in the city of Milwaukee. The solar project is designed to offset more than 12 percent of the electricity consumed at the facility, or 480,000 kilowatt-hours, and save many tens of thousands of dollars in annual operation costs.

Arch Electric is working with Legacy Solar Co-op of Wisconsin on this project. Madison based Legacy facilitates community solar projects that focus on customer-based energy savings.

“The School Sisters of St. Francis are making an important statement with this project,” said Ed Zinthefer, president of Arch Electric. “The congregation understands the global climate, the energy debate, and the need to educate both the population they serve, and the greater audience with whom they minister, about clean, renewable, and affordable energy. Today, almost anyone with an open roof space can benefit from solar energy.”

Sister Carol Rigali, who heads the congregation’s U.S. Province leadership team, stressed that the project will benefit the province, the residents of Sacred Heart, and the Earth. She noted that in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis specifically mentioned installing solar panels as one way institutions can help care for creation.

“This solar energy project will enable us to lessen our energy consumption and to invest in our care of the Earth,” Sister Carol said. “It is very much in keeping with the way that our province is living out our Congregational Direction by joining with others to raise a common voice for the good of all creation.

“We are also very pleased that Seraphim Solar, our panel supplier, is based in Mississippi,” Sister Carol said. “Our sisters have been ministering with the people of Mississippi for more than 50 years. Our love for the people there is exemplified by Sister Margaret Held, and we feel that this relationship is a small tribute to her lasting legacy.”

Sister Margaret, along with Sister Paula Merrill, CSN, served for decades as healthcare practitioners to the poor in rural Mississippi before they were slain last year.

The project will also include participation of the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps, a southeastern Wisconsin based service corps that assists the disadvantaged population in developing job skills and positive life experiences. GLCCC participants will assist in the installation of the panels and gain skills and experience for a career in solar energy and related fields.

Arch Electric intends to complete the project by late fall 2017, and have full production capabilities by the end of the year.

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