June 17, 2011

Valley Metro to use solar power in cooling system

NRG Thermal LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy Inc., is building an innovative system that uses solar power and the company’s downtown district cooling system to provide cooling to the seating areas of the popular 3rd Street/Washington Valley Metro (Metro) light rail station. The system will launch this July and operate May through September annually, when summer temperatures often exceed 110 degrees.

“I was able to experience a similar system during a business trip to Dubai and brought the idea back to Phoenix,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “NRG took the ball and ran with it, investing its money and expertise to make this happen. This solar-powered system will make riding the light rail in Phoenix even cooler. It’s an example of public-private partnership at its best.”

“This partnership with NRG will have a direct and positive impact on our riders,” said Metro CEO Steve Banta. “In addition to being a welcomed customer amenity, this project is the first use of solar energy on our system. We’re hopeful it can lead to other solar opportunities along our current line and as we grow.”

NRG plans to design and build this project by July 5, the week before the Major League Baseball All-Star game is held in Phoenix. Throughout the project’s construction, access to light rail service and station amenities, including fare vending machines, will not be affected.

Project benefits include:

• Free and on-demand cooling for passengers will improve the rail system experience.

• The system is environmentally friendly, leveraging the existing energy-efficient downtown district cooling system and using solar power to operate the air-conditioning/air-moving system.

• NRG will cover the entire cost of building, operating and maintaining this new system, which means no additional costs to local residents and commuters.

• The project will include an educational exhibit showcasing the technology and how it works.

NRG owns and operates NRG Energy Center Phoenix, which provides cost-efficient and effective cooling for 34 major buildings in downtown Phoenix including Chase Field, US Airways Center, the Phoenix Convention Center, the Sheraton Hotel, Symphony Hall and CityScape, among others.

The company also owns and operates distributed solar systems in Arizona at several schools, which help reduce the schools’ utility bills and provide shade for on-campus parking lots.

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