To commemorate Earth Month, the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas and Austin-based Green Mountain Energy Company, announced plans for the Zoo’s first solar array. Green Mountain presented the only accredited AZA zoo in Central Texas with a check for $140,000 to fund the new 6,000 plus square feet solar panel system.
Kelly Brcka, director of Residential Sales for Green Mountain Energy Company presented the $140,000 check to Jim Fleshman, director, Cameron Park Zoo and Nashim Hamilton, board president, Cameron Park Zoo.
The solar array will be the first to power a zoo in Central Texas and the second solar system donated by Green Mountain in Waco. It will help reduce the Zoo’s carbon footprint and energy costs, as well as be used to educate visitors about the benefits of solar energy. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system will be mounted on the roof of the Zoo’s new wood and stone pavilion currently under construction in the Meadows Area of the zoo. Cameron Park Zoo is located at 1701 N. 4th St., Waco.
“In honor of Earth Month, the 30-day celebration of Earth Day, Green Mountain Energy Company is especially pleased to donate the solar array system to the Cameron Park Zoo, an organization that is dedicated to supporting the environment, conservation awareness and preserving exotic animal species,” said Kelly Brcka, director, Residential Sales for Green Mountain Energy Company. “Green Mountain has been serving customers throughout Waco and the surrounding communities since 2002. Donating solar systems 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.”
Green Mountain funded Cameron Park Zoo’s solar array through its Big Texas Sun Club®, a unique 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® electric bill (for information, visit www.bigtexassunclub.com). This will be the 28th solar project built in Texas thanks to the Big Texas Sun Club since 2002. Through the Big Texas Sun Club, Green Mountain donated a 9.6 kW solar array to the Waco Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
“What is exciting about this particular facility is that Cameron Park Zoo will be able to actually show visitors an alternative energy option,” said Jim Fleshman, director, Cameron Park Zoo. “For the Zoo, conservation is a key part of our mission. The visitors will see that we work hard to be true to our stated purposes.”
The Cameron Park Zoo is building a new 6,070 square foot stone, metal, and wood pavilion in the Meadows area of the Zoo, where special events are held. This new larger area will be called the Cameron Park Zoo Pavilion, and will be used for weddings, corporate parties, and family reunions. Building a covered Pavilion will also allow the Zoo to schedule temporary, traveling exhibits that would offer Central Texans and others a chance to learn about animals other than those currently in the Zoo’s collection. The Pavilion is also intended to be a teaching tool.
A sign about the array and information about solar energy will be placed near the array. 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.
Construction on the solar array will start later this spring and is expected to be completed by August. Details about the array’s size and its environmental impact will be announced at the dedication.