Long Beach Catholic Regional School and St. Ignatius the Martyr Church are
“Going Green” with Energy Saving Solar Panels


Editor Note: Pictures Available by Contacting the Office of Communications

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. – October 19, 2009 – To reduce monthly energy bills and consumption of fossil fuels, The Long Beach Catholic Regional School (LBCRS), located in Long Beach, New York, will install solar panels over the school gymnasium starting October 19, 2009.  The total solar array is expected to produce 30 kW of electricity.  This energy will then be divided equally between the school and the neighboring church building. 

LBCRS Solar PanelThe school and parish, located one block from the ocean, can experience high winds which could be problematic for standard solar panels.  The contractor, Empower CES, has chosen interlocking solar panels from SUNPOWER, which are lightweight and lie flat like tiles.  These panels provide R-10 additional insulation for the areas underneath them and protect the roof from damage due to thermal expansion and UV exposure.  They do not have to be fastened to the building, can withstand 140 mph winds and are hail resistant for up to 50 mph.  The two systems will deliver about 15 kW of energy each, saving the school and parish roughly $5,000 annually in electricity costs.

“I am delighted to be able to work with the Long Beach Catholic Regional School,” said Msgr. Donald Beckmann, pastor St. Ignatius the Martyr Church.  “While the solar panels will be beneficial for the environment, they are also good for our budget.”

The role of The Diocese of Rockville Centre is to connect the school and parish with the appropriate professionals and to make sure that the Diocesan policies are followed.  “I’ve been working with parishes throughout the diocese to encourage them to be more environmentally conscious,” said Thomas DeFrancisci, capital project consultant, Diocese of Rockville Centre.  “This helps their budget while sending a bigger message to their parishioners about this important issue and hopefully inspires them to follow suit.”

By installing solar panels, Long Beach Catholic is going to substantially reduce its utility bill and environmental impact while improving air quality.  Solar panels conserve fossil fuel.  The school is also hoping to inspire students and parishioners to participate in the clean energy revolution.  The lobby of Long Beach Catholic Regional School will feature a kiosk allowing students and visitors to monitor the day-to-day impact achieved by the solar panel installation. 

“We believe we are doing our best to show respect for this beautiful, God-given gift of our planet,” said Veronica Danca, principal of Long Beach Catholic Regional School. 

Long Beach Catholic took part in the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) rebate program which will help offset the costs of the solar panels.  In previous years, the rebate was $4.50 per watt and capped at 10 kW per meter. This year, LIPA allows more capacity per meter for their rebates and is offering $4.50 per watt for the first 10 kW of each of the two 15 kW systems and $2.50 per watt for the remaining capacity. 

The school plans to incorporate study of the solar panels into its math, science, and ecology curriculum.  This not only teaches students how solar energy works but the importance of it for the future. 

The installation of the solar panels is part of an ongoing “green” effort by LBCRS.  It began with small projects from turning down lights and thermostats to recycling cans and paper.  The school underwent an energy audit and followed the suggestions given that addressed energy conservation.  LBCRS has also cut down the amount of paper used by installing interactive white boards in many of its classrooms. 

 Installation of the SUNPOWER solar panels is expected to be completed within a week of the start date, weather permitting, and will not interfere with the operations of the school or parish.


About The Catholic Church of Long Island
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  The diocese serves approximately 1.5 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.4 million).  There are 133 parishes in 115 towns.  Last year over 17,000 baptisms, 19,000 confirmations, 17,000 first communions and 3,000 marriages took place in the diocese.  There are approximately 20,000 students in Catholic elementary schools; 13,000 in secondary schools and 3,500 in higher institutions.  There are 69 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese.  Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice.  In 2008, Catholic Charities assisted more than 55,485 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island.  (12/08).

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