Texas prison system could use solar power for emissions testing facility
By now, you’ve probably heard about the massive algae bloom at the Texas Penitentiary.
A lot of folks are concerned that this algae-spreading incident has left inmates without access to the solar panels that power their cell phones and televisions, and the solar energy that helps power those devices.
The Texas Pen and Penitentiaries, which holds more than 40,000 inmates, is currently experiencing an algae outbreak, and one of the reasons it’s so critical to have solar panels installed is to help power those cells.
“Our facility is the only correctional facility that has solar power,” says Rick Sorenson, the Texas Prison System’s director of environmental compliance and sustainability.
Solar panels are currently powering the prison’s electronic equipment, as well as some of its water and sewage treatment facilities, Sorenssons office says.
“They’re also being used for carbon capture and sequestration.”
Solar power, of course, can be used to power other things as well, like a variety of electric vehicles.
So if you’re looking to buy a solar power system that’s powered by electricity from a generator or from a solar-powered generator, you might want to think twice about the state of your home and the quality of the batteries in your vehicle.
According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the number of electric vehicle registrations in Texas dropped from 7,932 in 2014 to 3,906 in 2016.
Electric vehicle sales in Texas have also fallen, and even in the states with more electric vehicle sales, electric vehicle owners are paying more to have their vehicles certified for use on public roads, according to data compiled by the Houston-based advocacy group Texans for Safe Streets.
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, as it’s a good thing that you’re not stuck with a gas-powered car that only runs on gasoline.
But as the electric vehicle market grows, there’s a risk that you may end up paying more for gas and less for solar power, says Sorenstein.
Even though the solar power that power solar cells isn’t directly powering any of the cell phones, televisions or televisions in the Texas prison, it’s an energy source that inmates can use to charge their devices.
Inmates are allowed to bring solar-charged chargers to the prison to recharge their cell phone, and Sorensson says that’s one of their primary ways of keeping up with the prison system’s energy needs.
For prisoners who live in a high-risk zone, solar power can also provide energy for other things, such as powering their cellphones and televison, or even for powering other solar-based devices, like lighting their homes.
That’s why Sorenns office has been working with the state to get the state’s energy policy updated to allow solar power to be used for the cell phone and television installations.
And, while that process hasn’t yet begun, Sorens office is also looking into getting the state government to change the way the prisons use solar energy, so that inmates don’t have to buy solar power and battery packs.
And it’s just a matter of time before inmates start charging up solar chargers on their own, and that could save them a few bucks.
“I think solar energy is a way to make sure that we’re paying attention to inmates, and to the needs of them,” Sorens says.