HOUSTON — The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club donated this week $100,000 to help the Houston Food Bank, the largest food bank in the nation, generate solar power for its 308,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center.
“The massive size of our warehouse and distribution center provides a major advantage toward the amount of food we can house and distribute to the community – it’s also a big driver of our electricity usage, which is one of our largest operating costs,” said Brian Greene, Houston Food Bank president/CEO, in a statement. “With the help of the solar array from the Sun Club, we’re taking a sustainable approach to our financial and environmental footprint, all resulting in providing more families with the healthy meals they need.”
The Sun Club is a program operated through Austin-based Green Mountain Energy, which donates solar energy to nonprofit organizations. Each year nonprofits are chosen from numerous applicants to receive a solar donation. These organizations are chosen based on mission and contribution to community, location (must be owned and operated in the United States), and solar education opportunities the organization will be able and willing to provide to the public.
The Sun Club chose Houston Food Bank based on its mission and outstanding contributions to the Houston area, as well as its interest in protecting the environment and educating the community on solar energy. Spread throughout 18 counties in southeast Texas, the food bank has a network of 600 pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and other agencies, feeding 137,000 people each week.
Since 2002, the Sun Club has helped install more than 600 kW of solar power through more than 55 unique projects supporting more than 50 nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House and The Human Impacts Institute in Brooklyn.
“One of the main goals of the Sun Club, aside from helping nonprofits reduce their environmental footprint, is to make sure we’re enabling them to better serve their communities,” said Tony Napolillo, Sun Club program manager. “When the Houston Food Bank applied for this solar grant, we knew the donation would make a significant, direct, and positive long-term impact on the city’s underserved population. Solar energy is already used to grow the food. Now it’s also going to be used to distribute nutritious meals to those in Houston who need it most.”
Green Mountain Energy offers clean energy products to the commercial and industrial industries in Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. The company garnered national attention in 2011 when it signed a two-year agreement to provide 100 percent renewable energy to the Empire State Building. The following year, it collaborated with the NFL to power Super Bowl XLVI with 15 million kWh of renewable energy.