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Holy Wisdom Monastery Installs 463 Solar Panels

October 3, 2014 by Carolyn McGinley

Holy Wisdom Monastery installs 463 solar panels and becomes MGE’s largest solar producing customer

Photo courtesy of H&H Solar.

September 2014 – Middleton, WI – The Sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery, with a long history of caring for the earth, recently became Madison Gas and Electric’s (MGE) largest solar producing customer. A new solar photovoltaic system consisting of 463 solar panels with a capacity of 125.6 kW was added to the preexisting system for a total capacity of 145.3 kW.

H&H Electric installed the new system at Holy Wisdom Monastery in July 2014 and the solar planning services were donated by Hoffman Planning, Design, & Construction, Inc.

“The total solar capacity at 145.3 kW will provide approximately 60% of the monastery building’s energy use or approximately 45% of the retreat & guest house and monastery’s combined electricity use,” explains Mark Hanson, director of sustainable services at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. The balance of the monastery’s electrical needs is renewable energy purchased from MGE.

Holy Wisdom Monastery received a grant of $46,896 from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program. In addition, the project was supported by funding from Holy Wisdom Monastery’s existing banking partner, Monona State Bank; and by a small group of renewable energy investors based in Madison. The Sisters will be 100% owners after 15 years.

“In keeping with our care for the earth values, this opportunity helps us get closer to our ultimate goal of providing 100% of our energy needs from on-site renewable energy systems ,” said Sister Mary David Walgenbach, OSB, prioress of Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery. “Our Benedictine values call us to do what we can to conserve precious natural resources on this earth.”

“The solar electric system is really about the care for the earth aspect of the mission at Holy Wisdom Monastery. The Sisters’ long-term goal is to continue to move towards net zero energy use,” tells Hanson who was also involved with the planning when Hoffman designed and constructed the monastery building in 2009. The building earned a Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in 2010 from the U.S. Green Building Council. The solar system installed when the building was constructed in 2009 was providing 8% of the building’s energy cost.

The Sisters are also currently involved in restoring 53 acres of farm land into native prairie and oak savanna. This Wisdom Prairie Project is in addition to the almost 100 acres of native prairie previously restored on the monastery grounds.

Holy Wisdom Monastery, home of Benedictine Women of Madison and a community of ecumenical Benedictine communities, weaves prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into a shared way of life. To learn more about care for the earth activities at Holy Wisdom Monastery visit

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