Sierra Club – Shell Settlement means Solar Savings in Houston Schools

Settlement Pays off in 700 Solar Panels on Baytown Schools

Project Saves Thousands for Schools while Teaching Students about Benefits of Renewable Energy

Sierra Club is celebrating the installation of a solar power project at two south Houston, Texas schools that is the result of the groups’ $6 million April 2009 settlement with Shell Oil Company concerning Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Deer Park Texas Refinery and Chemical plant. The settlement brought about reductions in pollution at the Deer Park plant and established, among other clean air efforts, this $2 million project at Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena and South High School in South Houston.

Sierra Club’s Jennifer Powis went to the opening ceremony at Sam Rayburn High School:

We are delighted with this solar power project in the two south Houston schools — It not only demonstrates the best direction for Texas clean energy future, it also provides real benefits to the schools and the young people. The school district is expected to save over $10,000 annually in reduced electricity bills and the students will study and learn how solar power works.

Grace Blasingame, the Science Content Specialist for Sam Rayburn High School spoke at the ceremony:

This project is unique in that we are installing three different solar technologies (panels) and will be monitoring them separately.  Our students will experience a real life science experiment where they can make a hypothesis on which solar panel group will be the most efficient,  collect the data, and draw conclusions.  The data we collect will be available to anyone through our website’s solar database.

Sierra Club and Environment Texas points to efforts in the Texas State Legislature to create incentives for homeowners and businesses to likewise install solar power.

In 2009, Senator Fraser’s bill to fund up to $1 billion in solar incentives passed the Texas Senate, but fell victim to end of session fighting on unrelated legislation. Senator Fraser, now chair of the Senate Natural Resources committee, has pledged to push for similar legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Sierra Club partnered with Environment Texas on this settlement with Shell Oil Company.  Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas said:

Solar and schools are a perfect match. Solar cuts energy costs for cash-strapped schools, cuts pollution endangering the future of our schoolchildren and gives kids a hand-on way to learn about science and technology. We’re proud to have helped get solar on these schools, but we need a future where solar is on every school, home and business, in Texas.

Cyrus Reed with Sierra Club added:

To make it easier for businesses and families to install solar, we’d like to see common rules in Texas for solar rooftop registration, interconnection and the fair market price for any excess solar power put back into the electrical grid.  Good solar policies are how cloudy northeastern states like Connecticut and New Jersey are installing more solar than Texas.  We have a great solar resource waiting to be tapped.

Learn more about renewable power in Texas at the upcoming Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association conference from Sunday, November 7 through Wednesday, November 10.

For morei information, you can call Cyrus Reed, 512-740-4086 or see the Lone Star Chapter webpage on clean energy solutions!

Posted by Donna Hoffman

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