Sunny day in Houston!

Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis is happy with the solar project at Sam Rayburn High School.

Hippies and Presidents have been asking for solar power since the 1970’s.  Now, we’re making it so.  Today in Houston in the shadow of one of the world’s largest petro-chemical complexes — Pasadena ISD, the Houston Advanced Research Center, and Ignite Solar took one of many giant leaps forward in Texas’s buildout of solar power.

With funds from Sierra Club’s settlement with Shell of a citizen’s suit under the Clean Air Act, the Pasadena partners have installed the largest solar array on a Texas school.  The project involves students in studying the ways different types of solar technology work.  And…it produces power!

Ken Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

Here’s what Ken Kramer had to say this morning at the ribbon-cutting ceremony:

Today’s celebration in Pasadena marks an accomplishment that the Sierra Club hopes will become a commonplace event – the completion of a solar power installation that not only benefits the environment but also enhances our ability to educate students in a way that saves tax payer money and teaches practical solutions to society’s pressing problems.

We face a number of serious challenges in Texas at this moment in our history. One of those challenges is the ongoing air pollution that plagues many of our cities for long periods of each year, despite the progress that has been made in addressing a number of emissions sources. Another equally vexing challenge is the severe funding crisis that is being felt in school districts around the state as a result of economic conditions and state government’s revenue shortfall.

The amazing thing is that right here at Sam Houston High School in Pasadena today we are witnessing the implementation of a clean energy solution that speaks both to cleaning up our air and stretching our education dollars. The use of solar energy avoids the serious pollution and public health impacts of powering our society through the burning of dirtier fuels such as coal and tar sands. Moreover distributed solar power installations such as the ones being employed here allow the Pasadena Independent School District to save approximately $15,000 each year in energy costs – money that may be spent directly educating our youth.
That’s the kind of long-term investment that pays dividends in so many ways.

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is proud to have played a role in securing a significant part of the funding for this solar power initiative. That funding came as a result of a settlement in a major citizen suit filed under the federal Clean Air Act with our partners at Environment Texas. We wish that Sierra Club and Environment Texas did not have to step forward to do the job that state environmental officials ought to be doing themselves to clean up our air and protect the health of our citizens. But my organization is pleased that our citizen enforcement action in this case has had benefits far beyond the direct reductions in air emissions that are resulting from that settlement.

We’ll have more to say about those direct reductions in air pollution in the next several days, but right now we’re thrilled to join with HARC, the Pasadena school district, Ignite Solar, the State Energy Conservation Office, Environment Texas, and others to celebrate another milestone in the bright new age of solar power in Texas.”

Statement by Ken Kramer, Post by Donna Hoffman

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