A lot of i’s need to be dotted and quite a few t’s need to be crossed, but Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School could be using solar power in the very near future.
“In a perfect world, sometime this fall,” said Kevin Parkins, vice president of advancement at Cardinal Stritch and Kateri Catholic Academy.
Kateri Catholic Academy applied for a grant, and officials there were notified that they were chosen to receive a “gift” of photovoltaic (PV) modules from the First Solar Corporate Charitable Fund.
“We were one of several (organizations) who got this grant,” Parkins said. “We applied for this grant through the Toledo Community Foundation. First Solar put this grant proposal together for various organizations that expressed their need and why solar energy would be good for their institution. We put together a grant proposal and were notified we were one of the recipients back in March.”
Cardinal Stritch and Kateri officials met with First Solar representatives last week and learned that the company was interested in helping Cardinal Stritch “become as independent with solar energy as we can,” according to Parkins.
The process of securing the PV modules and figuring out where to install them has yet to be determined, Parkins said.
“We will get solar panels,” he said. “How many we get will be determined by how many we want. If we get 10,000 panels, if we could do it and we can prove we need that many, they (First Solar) would give them to us. They’re willing to invest in what we’re doing.”
Parkins said Cardinal Stritch and Kateri Catholic Academy plan to unveil a full-scale proposal to First Solar in the coming months. Parkins added that a viable location for the panels would be on the 15 acres that was donated to Kateri Catholic Academy by George and Carrie Tschann.
George Tschann, who passed away in March at age 92, donated the property, which borders Pickle, Worden, Schmidlin, and Coy roads, during a formal ceremony last October.
“We are exploring all of our options for the best location to install the panels,” Parkins said, “either on our current campus or the recently donated 15 acres. The original thought was to install them on the (high school) roof. Since we have met with the First Solar representative, it’s going to be more cost efficient to have a mini-solar field, meaning we have them out in space.”
Parkins said the two-foot by four-foot PV modules, which weigh 26 pounds apiece, would be mounted off the ground if they were installed on the 15 acres near the high school. The panels produce electricity year round and are not based strictly on direct sunlight.
Parkins emphasized that nothing is set in stone.
“We are still exploring our options,” he said. “We are getting ready to finalize our strategic plan. A part of the plan is to figure out what to do with those 15 acres.”
Parkins added that First Solar is donating the panels, and installation costs will not be passed on to taxpayers. First Solar’s factory and development group are based in Perrysburg Township.
“They don’t like a lot of recognition,” Parkins said. “They are very low key about this. They do this every so often, and it’s a great way for them to clear some (old) inventory of solar panels. First Solar is donating a very nice financial gift, and anything we can do to become energy independent is a good thing.”
Parkins said Kateri Catholic Academy has not done any studies to figure out how much money the PV modules will save the Kateri school system in the next few years.
“We just started to get the scope of the project last Wednesday (June 20),” he said. “We don’t have all of the numbers in place yet, but it could save Kateri Schools thousands and thousands of dollars a year. We’re excited to have this opportunity as we continue to strive for innovative and creative ways to do things, both in the classroom and throughout our building.”