SHINE ON – SHS Celebrates Inaugural Year of Solar Array Benefits

Sacred Heart School is soaking up the sunshine and real savings from the solar array canopy installed on the campus last year. The 100-kilowatt solar electricity generation array became fully operational in June 2019. Online tracking and measurement of the energy savings began July 2019. According to these reports, in the first year of operation, the array saved SHS  $13,598.12 in utility costs.  The array is installed as a canopy structure over part of the parking lot west of the new gymnasium. This location was ideal for maximizing sun exposure while also adding to the aesthetic and real value of the school.  

The solar array is set up on a net meter basis with KCP&L. When the array produces more than the school is using on that meter, the energy flows back into the KCP&L power grid, which the school then receives credit. Energy calculations indicate the solar array covers the cost of nearly one-fourth of the power consumed by the school. Inverters record and monitor the power produced. Information from the inverters is sent to the web for access and review. According to the online tracking system, clean energy from the solar array has saved 57.66 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. To put this number into perspective, the CO2 savings is equal to planting 1,475 trees or driving 383,460 fewer miles. 

The total cost of the project was funded entirely through grants and a private donation from long-time Catholic education supporters and St. Vincent de Paul parishioners, Steve and Karen Ellebracht. Both are active volunteers at Sacred Heart School. Steve is a member of the Sacred Heart School Foundation and a frequent guest chemistry teacher, and Karen is the school librarian. 

“We knew this gift was going to be one that kept on giving for many, many years to come,” said Dr. Mark Register, SHS president. “It is wonderful to look back on the first year and see in real numbers the benefits of solar energy for both the financial savings to the parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul and the community as a whole regarding the CO2 effects on the environment. Sacred Heart School remains most grateful to the Ellebracht family for their foresight in the initiation of this gift.”