Just in time for Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, a local Jewish school decided to convert sunlight into enough electricity to power over 90 percent of its annual use. With a 45,000-square foot rooftop array, Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland (ASHAR) is the first Jewish school in Rockland County to go solar.
For Rabbi Ari Jacobson, Dean and Principal of ASHAR, the benefits of the project are not only reduced electric bills, but also opportunities for real-life, on-site education. On a spiritual level, the Biblical and Talmudic injunction against wanton destruction, or Bal Tashchit, calls for projects that do not destroy, and instead value renewable resources. Even when fighting a war, the Bible forbids needlessly cutting down fruit trees, “For you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
The solar installation on 360 New Hempstead Rd in New City included a new roof. To avoid having to pierce that roof, the 545 solar panels are held in place using a ballasted racking system that connects the panels and weighs the array down with concrete blocks. Total system size is 171kW (DC) producing about 226,000 kWh/year. ASHAR avoided all upfront costs by opting for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that allows the school to indirectly share in federal tax credits for solar investments that would otherwise be forfeited because of its nonprofit, tax-exempt status. ASHAR purchases the solar electricity at a discount while avoiding the burdens and expenses of owning the actual system hardware.
Westchester-based Silver Lining Solar worked in partnership with ASHAR on all aspects of the large project.