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May 11, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters took a step closer to their goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the Motherhouse Campus May 5, 2023, with a dedication and blessing of a 900-kilowatt solar array.
The solar array is composed of two sections: a set of 276 solar panels on top of a car port in the Regina parking lot, visible from Siena Heights Drive, and a 1,846-panel solar array on 2.5 acres of the north field behind Weber Retreat and Conference Center. The two sites combined are expected to produce 1.1 kilowatt hours of energy each year – about a quarter of the Motherhouse Campus’s annual consumption.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, right, introduces the members of the 2016-2022 General Council who served with her, from left, Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, Frances Nadolny, OP, Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, now Prioress.
Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, presided over the dedication, welcoming Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and guests. She introduced those who had played major roles in the solar array project: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, past Prioress, and other members of the 2016-2022 General Council; the members of the 2022-2028 General Council; Joel Henricks, Director of Facilities and Grounds; and Brad McCullar and Ray Casey, of the Technology Office. In turn, Joel introduced representatives of organizations that had partnered with the Congregation on the solar array project: Scott Hill of Krieghoff-Lenawee, a construction firm that has worked on many construction projects for the Congregation; Mike Deaton, President of Laibe Electric; and David Patterson of Consumers Energy.
Sister Patricia cited the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2016 General Chapter Enactment on Sustainability as the motivation for investing in the solar array. “We committed ourselves to recognizing the violence against Earth community that places our common home in dire jeopardy and intensifies the suffering of people on the margins, future generations, and all of creation,” she said. “These solar panels … are a concrete outcome of that commitment made in 2016.”
Sister Patricia noted that the Congregation will benefit from “being able to draw upon the actual energy that comes from this solar array.” But above all, she said, “we really want to make this contribution so that we ourselves as a community will lighten our own carbon footprint, and we know day by day climate disruption is getting more and more massive and causing more and more suffering.”
Sisters Elise and Patricia blessed the solar array at the Regina parking lot, an image of the solar array in the north field, the electrical gear, and the crowd. Together, they pushed the button that started the power to the array.
The dedication ceremony was the culmination of a long planning process, beginning in 2016-2017 under Sister Patricia, and three years of work on the project, beginning in 2020. “We’ve been talking about solar power [and other] renewable energy sources on campus for several years, and it finally came to fruition,” Joel said. While the Congregation’s solar array is small compared to others found throughout Michigan and across the United States, its contribution is still significant. “That small array that we have produces enough energy to power about 105 homes in an entire year,” he said. “That’s impressive.”
Learn more about the solar array here.