Construction Begins on First Solar-Powered Ronald McDonald House

Construction Begins on First Solar-Powered Ronald McDonald House

The installation of a solar array began Thursday on what will become the country's first solar-powered Ronald McDonald House.

Green Mountain Energy Co. plans to fund and install the 10.8 kilowatt (kW) solar panels that will power up to half of the house's 30 rooms used to accommodate the families of ill or injured children being treated in Austin area hospitals.

"We are proud to be the first Ronald McDonald House in the United States to incorporate photovoltaic solar panels into our design and to set the standard for innovative ways to incorporate cleaner, renewable technologies," said Kent Burress, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas.

The solar array will help offset more than 30,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, or the equivalent of driving some 33,000 miles, according to Green Mountain Energy Co.

The company teamed with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas for the project, to be located adjacent to the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.

It will be funded by Green Mountain Energy's Big Texas Sun Club, which allows customers to support solar energy installations with a $5 supplement to their energy bills. The Ronald McDonald House represents Green Mountain's 10th related solar installation.

Construction of the Ronald McDonald house began in November 2006. It will open in November with an educational kiosk explaining how its 54 photovoltaic panels work.

The Ronald McDonald House will be one of two buildings in Austin designated as a LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Platinum building.