Solar Energy and Environmental Stewardship at St. Anthony

On Sunday, March 12, 2006, the first Sunday of Great Lent, St. Anthony’s dedicated our newly installed solar panels and welcomed many guests including Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal Minister, and the Executive Director of GreenFaith.GreenFaith, founded in 1992, is a moral and spiritual based group working for the preservation of the environment, The GreenFaith philosophy states that people of faith have a responsibility to work for a clean and healthy environment. While our country is responsible for 24% of green gas climate changes, we only have 5% of the population of the world.
In 2005, St. Anthonys took advantage of a unique program in New Jersey that put the cost of purchase and installation of the panels at $0 outlay for the church. The program, called Solar PAYS, was developed in part by the NJ Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) in conjunction with SunFarm Network, who purchased, installed and currently maintain the installation. It is a pure "pay for performance" system based on the concept of "net metering". At the time, NJBPU's rebate program for solar installations was the 2nd most aggressive in the country, second only to California. By qualifying for the NJ rebates, we qualified for additional rebates from SunFarm in exchange for the sRECs produced by the panels. The remainder, amortized over 20 years, is paid off monthly solely from the energy we produce. For more information on this unique program, offered through Greenfaith to non-demoninational houses of worship throughout New Jersey, click here.
By installing these solar panels, St. Anthony’s is taking a small step to do something to change our environment, just as we know this is what God would want us to do.Rev. Harper congratulated us by saying, “We need to be reminded of who we are and who made us and whose we are. If we don’t protect the natural world by caring for the earth, we will lose it.”He continued by saying, “We all live on an earth that is a gift to use from the overwhelming generosity of God. Our job is to protect that gift. By doing this we will be protecting it for all life present and future….People of faith have a role to play to live in a mutually sustaining relationship with the earth.”
This thought is aligned with that of Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, and a long time champion of environmental stewardship, who declared, “Twenty percent of humanity consumes 80% of the world’s wealth, and is accountable for an equal percentage of the world’s ecological catastrophes”.
The dedication ended with the presentation of proclamations from The State of New Jersey, Bergen County and the Borough of Bergenfield, congratulating and praising St. Anthony’s for taking this first step to work for a clean
and healthy environment. Our guests for the dedication ceremony included, along with Rev. Harper, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Bergen County Executive Dennis McInerney, Honorable Richard Bohan, Mayor of Bergenfield and Adam Zellner, NJ Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Protection.
In addition to the solar panels, St. Anthony has demonstrated its dedication to lessening its environmental footprint in numerous ways. The church participated in an Environmental Energy Audit, a facility wide assessment of how energy was being used, and in many ways wasted.It revealed numerous areas of improvement that St. Anthony’s, spearheaded by Building and Grounds chairman Steve Fardy, has been undertaking over the short and long term, including: decommissioning unused freezers and cooling equipment, replacing thermostats, dropping the water temperature in the boilers, replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and many more small and large steps toward increased energy efficiency.