Wednesday AM February 4th, 2009

Environmentalists and business leaders are hoping for bi-partisan support in the Texas Legislature for developing solar power technologies. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of solar power business leaders

At least 15 bills have been filed to support development of solar technologies with incentives.  Environment Texas Field Organizer Alejandro Savransky says solar power generation will create jobs, as well as energy savings.

“For example, HB 278 and SB 427 would require the state’s electric utilities to support the development of 2,000 megawatt program of solar energy and other on-site renewables by offering direct incentives to consumers and businesses.”

One solar project involves the planned 14-unit Mirabeau Condominiums on Waugh Street, where University of Houston Professor Joe Meppelink says portable buildings now run on solar power, as a demonstration. 

image of solar panel condos

“This project, now called SPACE (Solar Powered Attractive Container for Everyone)  is being developed as a sustainable studio office project.  The space is an upcycled international shipping container, paired with a flexible solar rack system that holds ten, 20 or 30 panels, and can fold up either for transport or the inevitable Guld coast hurricane.”

Meppelink says the energy produced at the site by solar panels will lead to energy cost savings.

“Our meters do indeed spin backwards here.  That’s due to two things: one is we have ten solar panels, and we paired this solar system with extremely efficient lighting and HVAC systems.  So we’re both being very efficient and generating a lot of solar power.”

Eric Goodie is director of Workforce Development with the Houston Area Urban League.

“The community college systems, along with TWC are all advocating this agenda to have a better-skilled, more capable worker to take advantage of the opportunities that are existing in the marketplace currently.”

Their studies indicate solar’s economic development potential could reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of taking 4.3 million cars off the road. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

image of solar condos ad

Top picture from left to right: Eric Goodie, Alejandro Savransky, Ralph Parrott, Joe Meppelink