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Grand Rapids Catholic school expansion meets electricity demands through solar, wind

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Last school year, the construction of the 7,000-square-foot expansion of Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic School, 2510 Richmond NW, included a solar array that supplies 100 percent of the electricity needs of the addition. In February, the school installed a wind turbine to supplement the electricity needs for the 30-classroom school, the church and the administrative offices.

The Swift Wind Turbine, dedicated last Friday, is an ultra-quiet residential wind turbine manufactured by Grand Rapids-based Cascade Engineering. Besides supplying free electricity, the turbine is an educational tool for the school and the church.

“The turbine is connected to a beautiful monitor by the school and church entrance so the students and parishioners can see how much energy it produces,” says Father Mark Przybysz, pastor. “We equated the power to cell phones, something the kids could understand. On Friday the electricity generated would have charged 3,300 cell phones. By Sunday it was up to nearly 4,700.”

The monitor also shows the number of pounds of carbon dioxide that would be generated using petroleum based electricity. Thus far, that savings is eight pounds.

“The Catholic Church in general is very committed to creating a sustainable society,” Father Przybysz says. “Pope Benedict XVI is called the ‘green pope’ because he has put several solar panels on Vatican buildings. I’m hoping that the children and the adults will see this wind turbine at work and that it causes them to think in new ways. There’s always some creative new way to take care of God’s creation, and this is one way. It can make a difference.”

The wind turbine is a gift from the Wege Foundation.

Source: Father Mark Przybysz, St. Anthony of Padua Parish and School

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

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