It's official. is only moments away from flicking a switch and going .
The church officially unveiled the solar panel system during a small dedication ceremony last week with Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto, St. Benedict School Principal MaryEllen Lilly and Fr. Daniel Swift. Cathy Warshaw, Parish Administrator for St. Benedict Church and the head of the solar initiative, served as Master of Ceremonies.
The celebration of the new 935-panel system continued at St. Benedict School with Science Day on April 23. The kindergarten through eighth grade students were assembled in the cafeteria where Bill Amirault, marketing director of 1st Light Energy, explained how solar panels convert ultraviolet rays into energy that powers the school and church's electricity.
Curious students asked several questions, wondering what happens to the panels if it is not sunny, what happens when there is a power outage or what happens if they are struck by a stray baseball.
Amirault explained to them the concept of how ultraviolet rays, even when it is not sunny, still "excite" the electrons in the panels, allowing power to be created. He also explained that in a power outage, the power to the church and school still has to be turned off to protect utility workers making repairs. And, he said, if a stray baseball finds its way to the solar panels, a strong plexi-glass case on each panel should protect them from damage.
Amirault emphasized to the students the amount of energy that could be captured from the sun's rays if more people and companies used solar power.
"In 15 minutes, the sun radiates as much energy as all human beings use in an entire year," Amirault said. "In one day the sun shines enough energy on the United States to power everything we use for a year and a half."
Warshaw spoke to the students after Amirault. She held up a copy of Dr. Suess' The Lorax, telling them that while the Lorax is imaginary, his message is very real.
"You children have to realize that change starts with you. You too can be the Lorax," Warshaw said, reminding them also that caring for the Earth is part of their Catholic Social Justice training.
1st Light Energy installed the solar panels at St. Benedict as part of the Benevolent Solar Fund program, which offers participating organizations a tax deductible contribution of $500 or $1,000 in the name of a qualified homeowner or business owner. Under the terms of a multi-year power purchase agreement, solar panels are installed at no cost as part of a lease arrangement.
Instead of purchasing power at an average of $.15 cents per kilowatt from its current provider JCP&L, St. Benedict will purchase it at $.09 cents per kilowatt, through 1st Light Energy, with a 3 percent escalator.
The system was completed on Feb. 25 and is awaiting final approval from the power company before it is turned on.