Solar system will be 16 kilowatts and first array to power a South Texas zoo
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – To commemorate Earth Month, the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas and Austin-based Green Mountain Energy Company, today announced plans for the Zoo’s first solar array. Green Mountain presented the Rio Grande Valley’s only zoo with a check for $130,000 to fund the new 16 kW solar panel system.
Vanessa Montelongo, South Texas market manager for Green Mountain Energy Company, along with Super Earth, the company’s mascot, today presented the check to Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada and Dr. Patrick M. Burchfield, director of the Gladys Porter Zoo.
The solar array will be the first to power a zoo in South Texas and also the first one donated by Green Mountain in Brownsville. It will help reduce the Zoo’s carbon footprint and energy costs, as well as be used to educate visitors about the benefits of solar energy. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system will be mounted on the roof of the Zoo’s new South Texas Discovery Center, currently under construction. Gladys Porter Zoo is located 500 Ringgold St., Brownsville.
“In honor of Earth Month, the 30-day celebration of Earth Day, Green Mountain Energy Company is especially pleased to donate the solar array system to the Gladys Porter Zoo, an organization that is dedicated to supporting the environment and conservation projects to preserve endangered species,” said Vanessa Montelongo, South Texas market manager for Green Mountain Energy Company. “Green Mountain has been serving customers throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the surrounding communities since 2002. Donating solar systems like this one helps us give back to the communities where our customers live, work, shop and play, while supporting our mission to change the way power is made.”
Green Mountain funded Gladys Porter Zoo’s 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 Green Mountain Energy® electric bill (for information, visit https://www.greenmountainenergysunclub.com/about/). This will be the 27th solar project built in Texas thanks to the Big Texas Sun Club. With this installation, Green Mountain’s Big Texas Sun Club will be responsible for creating over 287 kW of new solar energy capacity in Texas since 2002.
“We are pleased that Green Mountain Energy Company and the Big Texas Sun Club selected our project to fund. They are helping us further our mission of educating the public about wildlife conservation. When the South Texas Discovery Center is complete it will educate Rio Grande Valley children about the benefits of solar energy and wildlife conservation,” said Dr. Patrick M. Burchfield, Zoo director.
The Green Mountain Energy® Solar at Gladys Porter Zoo is expected to produce more than 26,700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year by converting sunlight into pollution-free electricity. The solar array is expected to save approximately $130,000 in electricity costs over its 30-year lifetime. It is expected to offset over 36,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year. That’s the equivalent of taking over 1,100 cars off the road for a day or 10,600 houses turning off all their lights for a day.
A sign about the array and information about solar energy will be placed at ground level adjacent to the building where the array is mounted. A monitoring web site will also be linked to the array to display real-time energy output data that anyone with Internet access can view.
The solar panels will be installed by Atlantis Solar. Construction on the solar array will start later this spring and is expected to be completed by this summer.
About Earth Day
Friday, April 22, 2011 is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, an event many people around the world will celebrate by focusing on ways to reduce pollution, protect nature and lower their personal impact on the environment. Earth Day began in 1970 as an annual day to recognized the wonders and beauty of our planet and has evolved into a week-long – and in some cases, month-long – celebration.
Gladys Porter Zoo
The Gladys Porter Zoo is a visitor oriented zoological and botanical park, dedicated to the preservation of nature through education, conservation and research. The Zoo is open everyday and its hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Regular admission for adults is $9.50 (ages 14 – 64), $6.50 for children (ages 2 to 13) and seniors 65 and over receive a discounted admission of $8.00. Children 1 and under are free. For more information, visit www.gpz.org or contact the Zoo at (956) 546-7187.
About Green Mountain Energy Company
Green Mountain, the nation’s leading competitive retail 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 clean electricity products from renewable sources, such as wind, as well as a variety of carbon offset products. Green Mountain’s largest customer is the “world’s most famous office building,” the Empire State Building in New York City. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 11.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. As a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, Green Mountain is back by one of the nation’s largest renewable power producers. For more information, visit www.GreenMountain.com.
 Estimated savings calculated by Green Mountain, based on assumed current electricity price of $0.09 per kWh and annual electricity inflation rate of 3.24% over the estimated 30 year useful life of the facility.