McAllen Chamber of Commerce and Green Mountain Energy Company Celebrate Earth Day with New Solar Array

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Green Mountain’s Big Texas Sun Club® donated solar array to McAllen Chamber, the first Chamber of Commerce in the Valley to be powered by solar energy

Let the Sun Shine In -- In recognition of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Super Earth, Green Mountain Energy Company's Mascot; Texas State Representative Veronica Gonzales (District 41) and McAllen school children participate in a dedication ceremony for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce's new solar array, which was donated by Green Mountain.

Green Mountain Energy Company is proud to partner with the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, an organization that already supports several green initiatives

To commemorate Earth Day 2010, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and Green Mountain Energy Company today unveiled the Chamber’s first solar array. The 2.3 kilowatt (kW) solar array is also the first solar energy system to power a Chamber of Commerce in the Rio Grande Valley. The array was donated and funded by Green Mountain and it will help reduce the Chamber’s carbon footprint and energy costs, as well as be used to educate the community about the benefits of solar energy.

McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez; McAllen City Commissioner, John J. Ingram (5th District); State Representative Veronica Gonzales; McAllen Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joe Brown; McAllen Chamber President/CEO Steve Ahlenius; and South Texas Market Manager for Green Mountain, Vanessa Montelongo participated in today’s solar array unveiling. McAllen-area school children, Mayor Cortez and Green Mountain’s Super Earth mascot “flipped the switch” to officially dedicate the Chamber’s new solar array.

Mayor Cortez proclaimed April 22, 2010, as “Green Mountain Energy® Solar at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Day,” in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. He urged McAllen citizens and businesses to learn more about green power and to encourage the use of clean, abundant, reliable, renewable energy.

“Green Mountain Energy Company is proud to partner with the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, an organization that already supports several green initiatives,” said Vanessa Montelongo, South Texas market manager for Green Mountain Energy Company. “We know McAllen residents care about the environment and support clean energy, which is why Green Mountain donated this solar array to the McAllen Chamber. The array also supports our mission to ‘change the way power is made.’”

The Green Mountain Energy® Solar at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is 2.3 kilowatts (kW) and is expected to produce over 4,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy annually. The solar array was mounted on the Chamber’s roof and was built with 10 large photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity.

The solar array is expected to offset 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, which has the same environmental impact as 1,754 households turning off their lights for a day; taking 195 cars off the road for a day or as much as 361 trees would absorb in a year.

A sign about the array and information about solar energy will be placed in the Chamber’s lobby. 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.
Green Mountain funded the Chamber’s new solar array through its Big Texas Sun Club, a 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® electricity bill. (For information, visit http://thesolarsentinel.com.) To date, 22 solar projects have been built in Texas thanks to the Big Texas Sun Club, which is responsible for creating about 197 kW of new solar energy capacity in Texas since 2002.

“The McAllen Chamber is excited and grateful for Green Mountain Energy Company’s donation of the solar panels and acknowledges the importance of communities living greener, sustainable lives. This donation continues to support the Chamber’s drive to reduce its carbon foot print,” said Steve Ahlenius, McAllen Chamber President/CEO. “Green Mountain is a leader in green energy and enabling companies and individuals to reduce their environmental impact.”

The Chamber’s solar array is the second array Green Mountain donated in the Valley. Last September Green Mountain donated a 10.2 kW solar array to Texas State Technical College in Harlingen. The TSTC campus is located at 1902 North Loop 499.

“We are committed to McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Montelongo. “It’s our way of giving back to the community where our employees and customers live, shop, work, play, and attend school.”

The Chamber also promotes green living through its Green Living Festival held in October, the McAllen Green Hotel Certification Program and by doing the everyday simple things anyone can do to make a difference. The City of McAllen recently launched its “McAllen Goes Green” initiative and the Chamber is on board to make sure it is successful.

Green Mountain Energy Company helped pioneer renewable energy as an option for retail electric customers. The company became the first retail electric provider in Texas to offer renewable energy when electricity competition began in 2001 and remains the only provider in the nation that is dedicated to cleaner energy. Recently the company announced it was making a bigger investment in the Valley, which included opening its first Valley office and hiring dozens of local residents.

About Earth Day
Each year, people around the world celebrate Earth Day by focusing on ways to preserve the environment by reducing pollution, protecting nature, and lowering their personal impact. The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is being celebrated this year on April 22, 2010. Earth Day began in 1970 as an annual day to recognize the wonders and beauty of our planet and has grown into a week-long – and in some cases, month-long – celebration.

About McAllen Chamber of Commerce
The McAllen Chamber, with more than 1,900 members, is committed to powering the economy for South Texas, working to retain and attract jobs and investment to the region and helping regional businesses expand and grow. The Chamber represents business throughout the city of McAllen and all of the Rio Grande Valley. It promotes the community and strives to make McAllen a better place to live.

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. and in 2009 was ranked the “Highest in Business Customer Satisfaction with Retail Electric Service” by J.D. Power and Associates1. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of clean electricity products from renewable sources such as wind and water, as well as a variety of carbon offset products. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 11.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. For more information, visit GreenMountain.com.

( 1 ) Green Mountain Energy Company received the highest numerical score among business electric service retailers in Texas in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Texas Business Retail Electric Provider Satisfaction StudySM. Study based on responses from 2,231 businesses measuring 7 retailers and measures opinions of businesses with their electric service provider. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed May-June and September-October 2009. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.

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Marci Grossman

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