Chinquapin School and Green Mountain Energy Company “Flip the Switch” for Boarding School’s New Solar Array

Today’s dedication ceremony celebrates Green Mountain’s 20th solar donation through its Big Texas Sun Club®

HOUSTON (Nov. 19, 2009) – Chinquapin School’s campus is even “greener” now that it is being powered partly by solar energy, thanks to Austin-based Green Mountain Energy Company. The roof on Chinquapin’s new faculty duplex now boasts a solar array system which will help reduce its carbon footprint and lower energy costs. It will also provide an educational component for students at the college-preparatory school for able and deserving students (6th – 12th grades) from low-income families in the Greater Houston area. Green Mountain donated the 3.2 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) solar- panel system.

Green Mountain officials; Chinquapin Board Trustees and Alumni; members of the community; and students who attend Chinquapin School were on hand today to officially “flip the ceremonial switch” of the solar array. Chinquapin is located 20 miles east of downtown Houston in Highlands, Texas.

The solar array was installed on Chinquapin School’s faculty duplex which is slated to be LEED-certified. The duplex houses two faculty families, while serving as a model of sustainable design. The installation is believed to be the first for a College Preparatory School in Houston. The Green Mountain Energy® Solar at Chinquapin School is nearly 300 square feet and was built with 20- 175 Watt Andalay solar photovoltaic (PRV) panels that convert sunlight into pollution-free electricity. It is estimated that the solar array will reduce the facility’s monthly electricity bill by 30 percent and provide the organization about $60,500 in electricity savings over its 30-year lifetime.

“Green Mountain Energy Company is proud to partner with the Chinquapin School, an organization that not only provides educational opportunities for underserved boys and girls throughout Houston, but is also extremely committed to the environment,” said Paul Markovich, senior vice president of Residential Services, Green Mountain Energy Company. “Donating solar systems like this helps Green Mountain give back to the Houston community where our customers and employees live, work and play, while supporting our mission to change the way power is made.”

Green Mountain donated the new Chinquapin School solar array through its Big Texas Sun Club, a unique program in which Green Mountain’s Texas customers can choose to support solar energy installations in Texas by paying an additional $5 on their monthly electric bill (for information, visit is the 20th solar project built in Texas, and the tenth one in the Houston area, thanks to the Big Texas Sun Club. With this installation, Green Mountain will be responsible for creating nearly 185kW of new solar energy capacity in Texas since 2002.

“This solar array adds an important visual element of sustainability to the duplex, substantially reduces the building's operational costs, and contributes to greater awareness and education about alternative energy at both Chinquapin and the larger community," said David Heinzerling, director of Technology for Chinquapin School.

The array is expected to produce more than 6,300 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year and will reduce nearly 8,300 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. This is equivalent to avoiding 19 round trips between Houston and Dallas!

The array will help educate students about the benefits of solar energy. A sign about the benefits of renewable and solar energy will be placed in the school’s Moore Library and a monitoring web site will also be linked to the array and display real-time energy output data. The solar panels were installed by Alternative Power Solutions.

Faculty Housing at Chinquapin

Faculty housing is an essential part of Chinquapin’s boarding school offering. Most of Chinquapin’s faculty members live on the school premises, along with the 7th-12th grade boys who live on campus during the school week. The boarding component sets Chinquapin apart from most other educational institutions that focus on a low-income population. The new duplex is a welcome addition for the faculty, since the building replaces an existing substandard 1970 mobile home and an original dwelling that has been demolished. It is anticipated that the new facility will help maintain the sense of community among faculty and students at Chinquapin. Also, it is hoped that the new faculty duplex will contribute to teacher retention and help attract new teachers in the future.

New Faculty Duplex Slated to be LEED-Certified

The new building was designed by the well-respected firm of Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects. Features include:

- Monitoring of resource consumption around the clock, providing a data collection store for science and math education at Chinquapin and local universities

- Procurement of largely local building materials, resulting in a low carbon footprint

- Utilization of low- or no-VOC-emitting building materials, producing a healthier working environment for construction workers and a healthier living environment for residents

- Transparently-built mechanical systems, so that students can see building systems in action

- Collection and reuse of rainwater

About Chinquapin School

For over 35 years the Chinquapin School has provided economically disadvantaged youths from the Houston area with the opportunity for a better future through education. The mission of The Chinquapin School is to provide a high quality college-preparatory education to able and motivated youth from low-income families in the Greater Houston area. Through its rigorous curriculum and an emphasis on community service and earning what one receives, Chinquapin aims to produce responsible, well-educated citizens who will become constructive leaders in the community. The Chinquapin School is located at 2615 East Wallisville Rd., Highlands, Texas. For more information, visit

About Green Mountain Energy Company

Green Mountain, the nation’s leading provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions, was founded in 1997 “to change the way power is made.” The company is the longest serving green power marketer in the U.S. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, such as wind and water, and carbon offset products. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 4.9 million tons of CO2 emissions. For more information, visit


Betsy Phillips (Chinquapin), 281.426.5467,
Marci Grossman (Green Mountain), 602-694-8972,