St. Eugene is going green; Asheville church to install 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

St. Eugene Catholic Church in North Asheville announced earlier this month that it will install 146 solar panels this year.  The 45.99 KW system to be installed on the south and west roofs will cover 22 percent of the church’s electricity needs and be “net metered” so that the church produces more electricity than it can use, the meter runs backwards. 

The project is the collaborative effort of Father Pat Cahill, pastor of St. Eugene, the Parish Care of Creation Committee, the Pastoral Council, and the Diocese of Charlotte, all of whom have been involved since last Summer. 

“The Church’s teaching on social justice asks us to get involved in issues that affect us all,” Cahill said. “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.” 

This renewable energy solution will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and coal ash disposal, said Bill Maloney, a facilitator for the project.  Installation is expected to start this year when funds are available, he says.  MB Haynes Energy Solutions of Asheville will do the installation. With a 25-year warranty, the solar panel system provides a hedge against inflation and higher energy costs. 

The cost is $148,600 for 146 panels or about $1,000 per panel.  This will be covered by donations from parishioners and non-parishioners.  To donate contact the parish office at 828-254-5193. A North Carolina 35% tax credit and a federal charitable tax deduction are available for persons who donate to a nonprofit for renewable energy property in service before January 1, 2016. 

“It’s a win-win situation. Everyone benefits,” Maloney added. “We take care of the Earth  and donors get a tax break.”

A solar panel is displayed as parishioners hear the project announcement.   Left to right:  Fr. Pat Cahill, Care of Creation members:  Bruce Cahoon, Joyce Drapeau and Bill Maloney
A solar panel is displayed as parishioners hear the project announcement. Left to right: Fr. Pat Cahill, Care of Creation members: Bruce Cahoon, Joyce Drapeau and Bill Maloney



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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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