Volunteers to install solar on New Mexico shelter

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A group of volunteers will install two solar panels on the roof of a homeless shelter in Las Cruces, N.M., this Sunday as part of 350.org’s 10/10/10 Global Warming Work Party. That’s just two among more than 100 panels that 350.org expects will be installed on roofs around the world this Sunday.

The work party is designed to raise awareness about global warming and get officials and individuals doing the work needed to clean up the environment, according to the organization’s web site.

Over 7,000 events are planned for Sunday, according to 350.org. The web site lists events, locations and contact details for those interested in participating.

“We were very aware of the 10/10/10 initiative,” said Mark Westbrock at Positive Energy Solar in Las Cruces. “And we were wondering what we could do for it.”

That’s when Jade and Stephen Webber contacted him. They had created a local chapter of 350.org and wanted to put solar power on a homeless shelter roof for the event.

The group quickly discovered that it would be difficult to work through the politics to put panels on the homeless shelters that the city owns. But they found one, the Community of Hope, that’s run by a private organization, Westbrock said.

They conducted an energy audit on the home, and volunteers will work this Sunday to improve insulation, change light bulbs and make general energy improvements.

The energy efficiency work is the bigger, and in some ways, more important piece of this work party, Westbrock said.

“But we wanted something more high-profile, too,” he said. “And the solar is that.”

Positive Energy staff is volunteering their time to install the PV panels, Westbrock said. They have already done a lot of the work, so they will be able to install the panels and power inverters and flip the switch on Sunday, he said.

The two panels will supply the homeless shelter with 430 watts of power.

“It’s a really small system,” Westbrock said. “But it’s grid-connected, and the infrastructure is there now.”

He said the home’s owner would like to look for grant support to further develop the system in the future. The one being installed this weekend was paid for through community donations.

Pictured: The attractive embers of Las Cruces 350.org pose for a group shot. Photo: 350lascruces.webs.com