St. Eugene Church accepts Pope’s challenge and installs solar

Solar panels being installed on St. Eugene Catholic Church in north Asheville. Photo provided by St. Eugene Church

By Bill Maloney |

When Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si told us to care for the earth, St. Eugene Catholic Church took up the challenge. The day before the Pope’s visit St. Eugene in north Asheville began installing 146 solar panels.  When completed, this will produce 46,720 watts of power. The project was announced on Solar Sunday, March 8 and fund-raising was completed six months and a day later.

There is an active Care of Creation and Pastoral Council at St. Eugene, and parishioners are excited to be doing something concrete that takes care of the earth — our common home. Funding for the project was provided by parishioners, others and matching grants.

Fr. Pat Cahill, pastor noted that “The Church’s teaching on social justice asks us to get involved in issues that affect us all. Parishioners are looking for ways to do this. Our project lets us show stewardship and responsibility for our environment, along with other churches and synagogues who have already installed solar panels.”

Planned rooftop location for solar panels for St. Eugene Catholic Church in North Asheville. The 45.99 KW system includes 146 solar panels. Photo courtesy of St. Eugene Catholic Church
Planned rooftop location for solar panels for St. Eugene Catholic Church in North Asheville. The 45.99 KW system includes 146 solar panels. Photo courtesy of St. Eugene Catholic Church

The funding model used was Senate Bill 3 of 2007 that allows anyone who donates to a nonprofit to be eligible for a 35 percent N.C. tax credit and 30 percent federal charitable tax deduction for renewable energy equipment installed this year.

Asheville Catholic Grade School students visited the installation to watch a drone fly over the roof taking photos of the installation and to learn about solar energy. Panels were placed at the grade school and in the parish hall for everyone to sign, in remembrance of this day when Pope Francis visited the U.S. and St. Eugene installed solar.

As far as parish officials are aware, St. Eugene is the only N.C. Catholic church or school to install solar panels.

What if every faith community, home and business picked one thing to care for the earth and did it. Image the difference this would make for our children and grandchildren.

The system will begin producing electricity and feeding it into Duke Energy’s grid mid-October. MB Haynes Energy Solutions of Asheville is the installer.

Bill Maloney is a parishioner of St. Eugene Catholic Church.



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