Marian Catholic High School installing solar array in spirit of ‘Laudato Si’’

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Artist’s rendering of solar array at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. (Photo provided)

Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights will be getting at least 65% of its electricity from an array of solar panels on the school roof by next spring, after entering into a partnership with DSD Renewables and Catholic Energy, a program of Mission Energy.

The program is both good for the environment and will allow the school to pay a predictable — and lower — rate for electricity for the next 25 years, said Vince Krydynski, president of Marian Catholic High School.

Asked why Marian Catholic decided to use solar power, Krydynski invoked “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical that called on all people of goodwill to do more to protect the earth.

“‘Laudato Si’’ comes to the front of mind as a Catholic school,” he said. “We’re sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, and ‘Laudato Si’’ is a driver for them, in terms of doing all that we can do to protect God’s creation. How are we acting as good stewards and playing a role in a more sustainable future?”

At the same time, the opportunity to both control and cut costs was attractive, Krydynski said.

“The way we pay our bills is tuition dollars and money from donors,” he said. “One of the biggest costs outside of salary is energy costs. I now can set and cap what our energy costs will be for the next 25 years. I don’t have to worry about jacking up tuition to cover energy cost increases.”

Marian Catholic began considering adding solar power in February 2020, Krydynski said. It first settled on working with Mission Energy, a company that works with non-profits who want to use clean energy. Mission Energy has a Catholic Energies program that has experience working with Catholic schools and other institutions.

Mission Energy found investor DSD Renewables, which is paying to install and operate the solar array on Marian Catholics roof. DSD Renewables will own and maintain the array for the next 25 years, and sell the energy back to Marian Catholic at a set cost, which is lower than what the school pays now.

DSD also can use solar energy tax credits that Marian Catholic, as a non-profit, can’t use, Krydynski said.

“Aligning with our commitment to empower nonprofits to implement clean energy solutions, and as a hallmark of our Catholic Energies program, we’re incredibly proud to be part of this collaboration to bring solar to Marian Catholic High School,” says Dan Last, CEO of Mission Energy. “We’re excited to see this project benefit the school and its community, and are appreciative to have the backing of DSD to make this project come to life.”

When it is fully operational, the 701-kilowatt rooftop solar array is expected to generate 836,597 kilowatt-hours each year, avoiding the production of 593 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — at a cost about 18% less, or $23,000 a year, than the school is paying for the same amount of electricity now.

“It benefits our operations, it’s good for our families and it’s good for global issues,” Krydynski said. “For us, $23,000 is a big number.”

The school is also trying to drive down energy costs by replacing its old lights with LED lights using a ComEd rebate program that recently ended. If it is renewed, Krydynski is hoping to get approval to replace the football field lights with LEDs, which would make a significant impact on the school’s energy use.

At the end of the 25-year contract with DSD, Krydynski said, Marian Catholic will have the option of purchasing the solar cells or ask DSD to remove them.

Krydynski said that he would recommend that other Catholic schools and institutions at least look at the possibility of using solar energy.

If they do, though, they should be patient and look at several companies to find the right fit, he said.


  • laudato si
  • high schools

Related Articles