Solar Power Helps Feed the Hungry in Houston

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NRG donates $100,000 to build a solar array on the Houston Food Bank, in conjunction with a similar donation from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. The system will enable the food bank to provide thousands of additional meals and provides an excellent example of how solar can do more than just reduce carbon emissions.

Solar power is unique in the world of renewable energy in that it can be efficiently incorporated at all scales to both eliminate carbon emissions and reduce electricity costs in the process. These attributes have enabled organizations such as GRID Alternatives to both help the environment and help people in need.

Today, the Houston Food Bank received a $100,000 donation from NRG Energy, Inc. to support the installation of a solar array at the 308,000-square-foot facility just east of downtown Houston. Before the end of summer, new solar panels atop its expansive warehouse and distribution center will convert energy from the sun into more meals for hungry children and adults.

The donation from NRG will complement a similar donation from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club to construct an array that will provide energy to the food bank. The array will consist of 280 panels, which are expected to generate over 80,000 kWh of electricity annually to offset a portion of the facility’s energy needs.

Brian Greene, Houston Food Bank president and CEO, said energy cost savings will enable the organization to provide thousands of additional meals to needy children and adults. “We have a large warehouse and distribution center that uses a lot of electricity,” said Greene. “NRG’s generous donation will help reduce our operating costs so we can feed even more hungry Houstonians. It will also help reduce our environmental footprint and help us take the next step in sustainably serving our community.”

John Ragan, President of NRG’s Gulf Coast operations, serves as chairman of the Houston Food Bank’s board of directors. “The Houston Food Bank fills a vital need in our community,” said Ragan. “Leveraging our experience with rooftop solar to help them feed more people is one of the many ways NRG supports this community.”

NRG has maintained a longstanding commitment to the food bank with financial donations and employee volunteers. In 2008, NRG provided $200,000 to support Houston Food Bank’s emergency operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Additionally, NRG personnel maintain the food bank’s emergency generators that can ensure the refrigerators and freezers keep food safe during outages such as was experienced after Ike.

The Houston Food Bank is the largest food bank in the nation, serving more than 74 million meals every year, according to a report from Feeding America. This donation will go a long way as it helps to offset the shelter’s costs for many years to come.