These crop duster-height shots of 12 acres of solar paneling were snagged above FM 3013 half a mile south of Gebhardt Rd., where Harvest Moon Renewable Energy Company is getting ready to bring its juice to market in Sealy and Houston areas served by CenterPoint Energy. According to a fresh-from-the-farm press release, the plant’s 15,000-and-then-some solar panels, blossoming on the end of more than 1,000 steel posts, should produce around 2.5 million kilowatt-hours of power each year (bundled into the 952 million kWh the EPA says Houston uses annually). MP2 Energy will take care of the actual selling, and plans to fill in the gaps from the solar supply with power bought from other renewable sources.
Harvest Moon’s president Joey Romano, who previously developed the solar-focused Mirabeau B. apartments on Waugh at Hyde Park, is now running the operation with founder and CEO Joe Romano, formerly CEO of Contango Oil & Gas and CFO of Zilhka Energy. The company plans to allow customers to tour the family farm, but you can also watch the panel crop grow online — the company took a time-lapse video of the 120-day installation, which wrapped up late last year:
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Fresh from the Photovoltaic Module
NOW ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE: WHY YOU CAN’T BREATHE A team comprising researchers at UH, Air Alliance Houston, and the American Lung Association have launched OzoneMap, an app that “monitors chemical weather,” reports John Metcalfe of The Atlantic blog Cities. And whether the app helps explain your coughing fit or alerts you to the chance of a really pretty toxic sunset, the best part is that it’s only available in Houston! And why Houston, of all places? Besides the industrial flares, that is? Here’s Metcalfe: “The Houston/Baytown/Huntsville region comes in eighth place for most ozone-polluted cities in America, as ranked by the American Lung Association. Persistently sunny weather, a battalion of petrochemical facilities and scads of fuming cars on the road make Houston a nightmare for anyone who’s chemically sensitive. For these folks, walking outside is like playing a lower-stakes version of Russian roulette, with 30 to 40 days of the year fogged with hazardous levels of ozone.” [Cities; previously on Swamplot] Map: Cities
POOP SCIENCE COMES TO FAIRMONT MUSEUM DISTRICT APARTMENTS And one of the “amenities” that the doubling-in-size Fairmont Museum District wasn’t ready to announce would seem to be that poop detection service picking up steam in Dallas: Houston Chronicle’s Carol Christian reports that the Richmond and Dunlavy apartment complex that’s right beside Ervan Chew Park has already asked tenants to submit their pets’ DNA to hasten the resolution of these mistakes most foul: “The main reason we decided to try [PooPrints] was because we had a specific issue on one of our floors with accidents,” Fairmont manager Molly Kalish tells Christian. Still, the whodunit service seems to have a few bumps, since it provides no way to sniff out a motive or track a rogue agent: “ . . . DNA testing did not identify any [Fairmont] tenant’s dog as the recent accident-prone culprit,” reports Christian, “suggesting that a visitor might have been responsible.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fairmont Museum District: Allyn West
Andrew Carnegie tried — and now, following his lead, a team with ties to Rice University wants to change the world with libraries, too. If it can raise $50,000 via a Kickstarter campaign, the team, whose 5 members are linked to Rice School of Architecture and Rice Design Alliance, will be able to take its talents to Ghana and build a prototype of this open-source, open-air digital agora it’s calling Librii.
And what, exactly, would it be?
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GARBAGE PROGRAM STILL ‘ABSOLUTELY DOABLE,’ SAYS MAYOR PARKER
So Houston’s “One Bin for All” idea didn’t win the $5 million grand prize in Mayor Bloomberg’s philanthrophic challenge — but it did tie for second. And that means $1 million will be coming Houston’s way, along with $50,000 extra for being so darn lovable and winning the “fan favorite” vote online. And what’s the city going to do with all this dough? The Houston Chronicle’s Carol Christian reports that the consolation prizes might be just enough to get the program off the ground: Though the idea to combine garbage, recycling, and yard waste into one big bin for mechanized sorting later has been around for awhile, Mayor Parker says, “This award will allow us the seed money to begin the process . . . We have thoroughly researched the technology. It’s absolutely doable.” Construction on a new sorting facility could begin as early as 2014, reports Christian. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of recycling bin in the Heights: Charles Kuffner
WIRELESS BROADBAND: HOUSTON IS NEXT Clearwire is set to launch its Clear 4G wireless broadband service in Houston “within several weeks.” That’ll put this city just slightly ahead of New York, San Francisco, and Boston on the company’s schedule — but behind Amarillo, Abilene, and Austin, where the service became available last year. The home version of the service is priced comparably to DSL and cable — but uh, doesn’t require any wiring. Its high-speed mobile version costs $45 a month for unlimited data. Comcast and Sprint will likely offer rebranded versions of the same service — as they have in other cities. [DSLreports, via LeasingHouston]