Sun Club At It Again With PV, Internship

The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club has been popping up on our radar a lot lately, with recent solar installations at the Waco and Fort Worth zoos. Now the program, which allows its Texas customers to support solar energy installations by paying an additional $5 on their monthly electric bills, has announced a $140,000 donation to the University of Houston for its first photovoltaic (PV) system.

The 20.24-kilowatt (kW) PV array on the roof of the university’s Central Utility Plant consists of 88 solar panels and covers 2,000 square feet. The system is expected to produce around 23,600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually – enough to save the University nearly $300,000 over its 30-year lifetime. But that’s not all the Sun Club is doing for the university: In addition to providing the school with a hands-on opportunity to educate students about solar energy, it’s also launching the Green Mountain Energy Company Solar Internship program.

UH-solar

image via Green Mountain Energy

As the first participant in this program, University of Houston student Omar Tahir will be paid $1,000 per academic semester to keep track of the solar array’s performance, update the Green Mountain Energy Solar Array Web page and execute one on-campus educational event each semester through May 2012.

“We are thrilled that UH, a highly regarded educational institution in Houston is the recipient of this solar array from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club,” said Mark Lamping, vice president of sales for Green Mountain, in a statement.“Donating a solar system 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.”

The system is the 32nd installation since the Sun Club was launched in 2002. The program has previously donated 11 other solar installations to Houston-area organizations including: the Houston Zoo, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, Chinquapin School and Houston Habitat for Humanity.

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Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).