Two-part program combines ‘stewardship’ and environmental concerns

May 15, 2009 by

A total of 67 wind turbines dot the wheat fields on both sides of Highway 81 south of Concordia.

A total of 67 wind turbines dot the wheat fields on both sides of Highway 81 south of Concordia.

The gathering Thursday morning at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse was “not political” and “not just an environmental issue,” said Eileen Horn of Kansas Interfaith Power & Light.

Eileen Horn

Eileen Horn

“It’s not even about (former vice president and global climate change guru) Al Gore,” she added, drawing a laugh from the 40 sisters and local clergy gathered for the hourlong discussion.

The point of becoming more energy efficient, using renewal energy resources and focusing on environmental concerns is about “protecting what God created for us” and “stewardship” of the earth, Horn said.

Horn’s discussion was the first of two parts that made up Energy Stewardship Day for the sisters and local clergy. The second part, in the afternoon, was a presentation at the Horizon Wind Energy offices south of Concordia and a tour of some of the 67 wind turbines that make up the Meridian Way operation.

Sister Miriam Vaughan and Pastors L. Dean Thompson, center, and David Strommen listen to the presentation Thursday morning. About 40 sisters and local clergy attended.

Sister Miriam Vaughan and Pastors L. Dean Thompson, center, and David Strommen listen to the presentation Thursday morning. About 40 sisters and local clergy attended.

The program was organized by the Justice and Peace Center in Salina, a project of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia through the efforts of Sister Esther Pineda, Sister Judy Stephens and others.

Horn is the director of community outreach for Kansas Interfaith Power and Light, a project of the Land Institute that was created in August 2008 to work with faith communities across the state. Her role is to help congregations with environmental stewardship and sustainable practices through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

And her focus is on the practical: Throughout her presentation, she used examples of churches across Kansas that have found environmentally friendly — and inexpensive — solutions for aging buildings and tight budgets.

One congregation, for example, replaced an aging heating and cooling system with a cutting-edge geothermal system. While the new system was slightly more expensive to install, the energy savings will pay it off in about two years.

Another congregation used Advent — “the season of light” — to provide energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to its members.

Kansas is the most recent of 28 states that are now a part of the national Interfaith Power and Light coalition, and about 20 congregations have signed on to the seven-part “covenant” that commits them to work on environmental issues.

Michelle Graham

Michelle Graham

There is no charge for taking part in the programs offered by Kansas Interfaith Power Light, which is funded through private grants, Horn said.

Two pieces of the covenant asks congregations to “engage in an ongoing process of education” about environmental issues” and to “promote renewal energy.”

For the afternoon session Thursday, the group combined those two with a field trip to the wind farm just south of Concordia, on both sides of Highway 81.

Construction on the 67 wind turbines that make up the Meridian Way I and II operations began in February 2008, and the machines came on line as 2009 began. Together they have the capacity to produce 201 megawatts of electricity, or enough to provide power for about 60,000 Kansas homes for a year.

Those on Thursdays field trip to the Horizon Wind Energy turbines south of Concordia gather for a group photo. About 40 Sisters of St. Joseph and local clergy took part in the two-part program.

Those on Thursday's field trip to the Horizon Wind Energy turbines south of Concordia gather for a group photo. About 40 Sisters of St. Joseph and local clergy took part in the two-part program.

The tower and motor housing together are about 260 feet tall. The blades add another 146 feet, making the entire structure just at 410 feet tall — or about the height of a 30-story building.

Horizon leases about 20,000 acres for the Meridian Way turbines, and according to the company’s Michelle Graham, who led the tour, there are plans under way to double or even triple the wind farm.

“Kansas is No. 3 for states that have wind resources,” she said. (First and second in the “wind capacity” rankings are North Dakota and Texas.) “There’s a reason we’re here.”

The turbines dot the wheat fields both east and west of Highway 81 about five miles south of Concordia, and as sisters and local clergy asked questions about the machines, Graham explained their operation — and some problems that have cropped up with the new technology. On Thursday, many of the turbines were still; they had been shut down because of malfunctioning gear boxes, and Horizon was awaiting replacement parts.

Comments

7 Responses to “Two-part program combines ‘stewardship’ and environmental concerns”

  1. Faye Huelsmann on July 31st, 2009 8:00 pm

    I am happy to see all the activity captured on our website. Since I am at a great distance from Concordia, at least I can particpate by reading about these great things.

    Each of us can add our bit to helping the environment and Pat and I do all we can from Grand Junction.

  2. Rebekah Heyes on July 28th, 2009 11:57 pm

    Nice post. Looks like wind power is really starting to get some serious consideration in Australia now.

  3. Joanne, csj on July 1st, 2009 6:31 pm

    You folks are doing great work. I love this blog and read it regularly. I love the way you spread the message of the Community of God’s Great Love.
    joanne

  4. Energy Stewardship: “It Just Makes Good Sense” « Climate and energy on May 21st, 2009 12:36 pm

    […] the Salina Register and the Sisters of St. Joseph blog covered these […]

  5. Sisters of St. Joseph: Faith and stewardship in on tour of Concordia wind farm « Climate and energy on May 19th, 2009 1:30 am

    […] Yay for CEP’s Kansas Interfaith Power and Light Coordinator Eileen Horn – the following post comes from a blog run by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, KS (and yay the sisters for […]

  6. Carm Thibault on May 16th, 2009 12:16 pm

    This was a wonderful day . Standing under the wind turbine lets you see how huge they are! Thanks to the planners – Esther, Judy, Regina Ann !

  7. Anne M. Reinert on May 15th, 2009 3:58 pm

    Good Job in reporting

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