As one of the oldest churches in the diocese of Phoenix, Sacred Heart Church and School has been serving the community for many decades. Last month, the progressive church expanded its leadership role by promoting environmental responsibility through the implementation of dual solar photovoltaic systems at its campus in Prescott, Ariz.
Online as of September 12, parish officials partnered with Sun Valley Solar Solutions of Chandler to design and install a 100-kW system for the Church’s 2,000-seat parish, and a 60-kW system for its K-8 school.
Sacred Heart’s business manager, Gene Murphy, admits that the decision to add solar was equal parts pragmatic and ethical.
“We’re very committed to promoting earth stewardship as one of its core tenets,” explained Murphy, who joined the church’s leadership team after nearly two decades managing his own business in Prescott. “At the same time, we also recognize the importance of managing operation costs wherever possible.”
Indeed, the new photovoltaic systems are just the latest in a series of cost-saving initiatives Murphy has implemented. Other updates include low-consumption LED lighting, updated plumbing, and new thermal pane windows.
“With energy costs on the rise, we’re constantly looking for anything we can do to offset expenses,” continued Murphy. “Being in Arizona, solar quickly rose to the top of our list because it not only offered the potential for significant savings, but it allowed us to demonstrate a clear commitment to the environment.”
With dioceses on board with the initial concept, Murphy began searching for the right design and installation partner.
“We looked at this as a long-term investment, so we wanted top grade components and a partner that would handle design and installation, as well as ongoing maintenance,” explained Murphy. “We spent five months researching different providers, but the team from Sun Valley Solar Solutions instilled a sense of confidence from the very start. They had top-notch products and a really solid reputation. Their customers seemed extremely happy, and that spoke volumes.”
Sun Valley Solar Solution’s Wes Neal served as business development manager for the project. With closing dates fast approaching on several APS incentive programs, Neal and Murphy wasted no time in specifying a system for approval by the Diocese.
“Time was short and I was worried that we would have to reduce the scope or adjust the budget to speed up the approval process,” explained Murphy. “But Wes really kept the whole project moving. He helped us clear all the necessary hurdles without sacrificing anything in terms of quality.”
“This is exactly the type of project we really love,” added Neal. “We’re always motivated to help customers who truly understand the value of solar as well as the money they can save while also improving our environment. I’m extremely proud to have assisted the church with such an important mission.”
Sacred Heart’s final design includes over 620 Bosch solar modules split between both buildings, with Fronius inverters on the school and Solectria on the church. The systems are expected to produce over 270,000 kWh of electricity in their first year of operation, and save as much as $40,000 in electrical expenses annually.
“It’s clear that Sun Valley Solar Solutions values long-term customer relationships,” concluded Murphy. “They worked tirelessly to make sure we cleared every hurdle, and at the end of the day delivered a system that’s performing even better than we’d hoped. I couldn’t be more grateful for their guidance and commitment to our project.”
— Solar Builder magazine