An Ossining-based Catholic missionary group is looking to the heavens to reflect its commitment to protecting the Earth.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 19 at the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ Ryder Road campus on what will likely be the largest canopy solar installation in Westchester County and the first community solar project in the Town of Ossining.
The installation’s 874-kilowatt capacity is enough to power between 100 and 200 households and will include 2,184 solar panels mounted on six canopies covering Maryknoll’s two parking lots.
The tilted canopies will range in height from 13.6 feet on the low end — high enough to allow fire trucks and school buses to pass underneath — to about 21 feet, according to Brock Gibian, director of development at Ecogy Energy, the project’s developer, financier, and owner-operator.
No trees are being cut down and all electrical wiring will be underground so no utility poles will be needed. The canopies will be 300 to 400 feet from the edge of the property and not visible from the street, Gibian said.
The system will employ bifacial glass panels, allowing light filtering through to produce energy on both sides. Gibian said these panels look better and are more durable than traditional monofacial panels. One-hundred percent of the energy produced gets injected straight into the power grid.
The project is three times the size of Brooklyn-based Ecogy’s Croton-on-Hudson installation atop the village’s DPW building, which debuted earlier this year and is supplying power to 50 subscribers.
Ecogy is partnering with Sustainable Westchester on the community solar project, prioritizing low- to moderate-income households in Ossining to become subscribers eligible for credits providing a 10 percent discount on their Con Ed bills.
Gibian said he’s hoping that all the participants come from within the town, but residents outside Ossining will be eligible if there are subscriptions left over. There are no upfront costs and no cancellation fees, he said.
“We want to help low-income folks because they’re the ones that don’t have the money to put solar on their own home,” Gibian said. “Maybe they rent an apartment and they can’t afford it. This way we can create community solar access for low- and moderate-income folks. And that’s exactly what we did for the Croton project.”
Maryknoll, a nonprofit engaged in missionary work worldwide, will receive payments for hosting the installation for the duration of the 25-year lease, as well as credits toward a 10 percent discount on its energy bills, Gibian said.
Protecting ‘our common home’
The 90-acre campus includes the organization’s worldwide headquarters and is home to 122 residents, most of them retired priests and brothers. It is separate from the nearby Maryknoll Sisters property.
Hosting a solar installation fits well with Maryknoll’s commitment to safeguarding the environment, said Father Raymond Finch, the organization’s superior general. The project will promote clean, renewable energy while generating income for the group’s missionary work in 22 countries around the world.
“This project is one of many ways that we try to live our commitment to a simple, dignified lifestyle with as small an ecological footprint as possible,” Finch stated. “Our faith tells us that we are caretakers of God’s creation. We have a responsibility to both protect what we have received and to pass it on to future generations.”
Finch added: “Our missionary work is all around the world in areas and among people who are not as privileged as we are here in Westchester. Many of our efforts aim at helping those we serve improve their living conditions. This will only be a real possibility in the future if we can tap into renewable energy sources in a way that is sustainable. We all have an obligation to help people rise out of precarious living conditions in a manner that continues to protect the future of our common home.”
How to subscribe to Ossining’s solar initiative
Those interested in subscribing to the Ossining community solar project can click on the link below to sign up. There are no credit scores required and no cost to terminate the subscription. Subscriptions are on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the subscriptions are filled, you’ll be placed on a waiting list to be eligible if a subscriber drops out or when another project in Westchester comes online.