UTEP is committed to finding alternative sources of energy to aid in the reduction of our nation's dependency on non-renewable fuels. Energy sources that are currently being evaluated include the use of solar energy panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and alternative fuel vehicle programs. Although currently unfunded, designs for the placement of photovoltaic panels on the Sun Bowl Parking Garage, thermalphotovoltaic panels at the Swimming and Fitness Center, and wind turbines atop the new Chemistry and Computer Science Building are currently underway. These projects will provide substantial energy savings and reduce dependency on the electrical grid and net metering for cost savings during the peak energy-use hours.

Each year El Paso, Texas receives an average of 293 sunny days-193 of which are cloudless. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) decided to take advantage of this abundant natural resource to lower their electricity bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Led by its Director of Energy Initiatives, Dr. Ralph Martinez, UTEP qualified for and earned a $1M grant to go solar from the Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program run by the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO).

Having done their solar due diligence, UTEP already favored SunPower products, so when a local proposal included SunPower solar panels, the choice was clear. In four short months, the UTEP team along with SunPower and El Paso's own Border Solar came together and brought online a 185 kW system featuring a rooftop system on the Student Recreation Center and a solar carport for the Facilities Services Building. Now, the university can count on saving $32,000 a year in energy costs while modeling the future of clean energy for its students and community.

This project is performed for the benefit of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Facilities Services Department, and Energy and Sustainability Initiatives on campus. The project involves graduate students being funded though this proposal by the Green Fund program at UTEP in energy efficiency and sustainability. The project will measure the electricity currently being consumed by the University in real time and will allow for continuous efficiency of the University's energy resources.

What can you do to help?

Jorge Villalobos, Ph.D., Director of Facilities Services, said The University of Texas at El Paso could save approximately $500,000 annually - possibly more - if students, faculty and staff followed their parents' advice and turned off lights in areas that are not being used and put their computers to "sleep" at day's end. Remember to turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use.