Green Project: The Benefits of Louisiana’s Largest Solar Panels

The largest photovoltaic system (that’s solar panel to you and me) in Louisiana sits atop a large warehouse facility in New Orleans. Seventy-two 85watt panels with an output capacity of 6.12 kilowatts will help power The Green Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging environmentally sustainable living.

Shell Exploration & Production Company and Entergy donated a combined $35,000 to the project, which is designed to reduce The Green Project’s electrical demand and to provide an educational tool for the community to learn more about solar energy. During the first six months of operation, the system is expected to cover 20 percent of the organization’s energy needs, with that capacity increasing over time. In addition, the system is plugged into the city grid. This means as the panels suck up sunshine, they convert it into electricity to power the building; whatever the building doesn’t need to use at the time flows into Entergy’s circuitry, to be used by others on the same grid. Sometimes this system even reverses the electrical meter itself!

This is only one aspect of the group’s work to change the way Louisiana treats its fragile environment. Local contractors, artists, and home owners know the warehouse is the best place to go to find doors, tiles, recycled paint, and other building materials-all at rock-bottom prices. Everything at The Green Project is donated, usually by homeowners who might be tired of their bathroom’s look but who know there’s nothing wrong with the materials in it. This creates bargain sales and architectural finds for buyers plus keeps these items out of landfills.

“The Green Project views its role as an educational resource for promoting responsible sustainability practices in all areas,” says board vice-president Phyllis Jordan. That means field trips are welcome; gardening workshops are routinely offered to the public, with plenty of info about organic gardens and composting; recycled fabrics, Mardi Gras beads, and other items are used in artists’ workshops held regularly at the warehouse.

The group moved into its current location, 2831 Marais Street, in 2003. The building features a large, flat roof ideal for solar electric production, long a goal of the organization’s board. The panels were purchased from Shell Solar Industries LP, with the design and installation handled by Louisiana Homepower, based in Baton Rouge. Entergy, Louisiana’s premier energy company, also provided funding to support the purchase and installation of the panels. For more information about The Green Project, visit www.thegreenproject.org.

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