Saint Francis in the Foothills celebrated spring with the installation of solar panels. 192 of the 252 photovoltaic panelsare now installed on the roofs of the International School for Peace. The remaining 60 create a solar canopy for the entrance of the Center. These latter panels are unique. They are called bifacial, which means that they not only collect energy from above like all other PV panels, they also collect power from the reflected light below, maximizing the energy produced per square foot. They also show how beautiful solar panels can be. They are nice to look at from below and create a comfortable space to escape the heat and glare of the direct sun.
The system is financed by a third party which means that the church had to put zero money down. This third party leases the system to the church for 13 years after which they become the owners. Because the Arizona Corporation Commission currently requires that utility companies subsidize alternative energy, Tucson Electric Power will pay for half of the cost of the system over a 15 year period. When the lease payment and the TEP’s rebate are put together, the church will save over $200 for electricity on a monthly basis. Environmentally the savings are much greater than $200.
Burning coal for energy uses huge amounts water and emits dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere. Every month that Saint Francis gets its energy from the sun we save 4,605 gallons of water, keep 9,205 pounds of coal from being burned, and don’t emit 20,508 pounds of carbon dioxide, 35 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 58 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.