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Mount Saint John's Solar Project

Updated: Mar 7

Bro. Mitchell Schweickart, SM, sends us this inspiring update.

In the fall of 2022, Mount Saint John entered a contract with Melink Corp Solar Development to convert the property to solar power. The project, although quite expensive, will pay for itself within 14 years. Mount Saint John will be energy neutral at that time.

The site work began in the “front forty” meadow along Shakertown Rd. in mid-December, clearing an area larger than a football field. The site was bush hogged to remove the existing plant growth, except for a few trees that needed moving. Next, with the help of UD facilities, the area was sprayed to inhibit new growth, and the soil was tested for suitability.

A new access road was constructed this past week (Feb. 20, 2023), leading down from the Novitiate to the installation site. Framing material was delivered the next day and hauled down to the site.

The next stage of the project will involve the installation of the framework for the panels.

Some questions on the negative side to ponder:

As with any construction project, there are other short/long-term costs to the environment that have to be taken into account.

1. The short-term loss of plant material that stores greenhouse gases (the plan calls for replanting between the solar panels)

2. The high industrial cost of project materials for panels and infrastructure (steel, concrete, mineral extraction for wire and electronic components).

3. Loss of animal habitat

4. The transport of materials by heavy equipment degrades roadways much more quicker than usual. We will have to repair and repave much sooner than planned. This means we will use more asphalt (fossil fuel product) than our road repaving schedule calls for. Also, the new access road to the site means the loss of more plant growth and animal habitat.

All these issues were discussed, owned, and mitigated (as much as possible) before final approval to move forward with the project was given.

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