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Enchanted Rock Goes Solar And Is A Model Of Sustainability

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area may be known for its pink granite, but the park is working to become the greenest state park in Texas. The park’s newest addition of solar panels is just the latest in its sustainability efforts.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has just installed a solar array to offset half the park’s energy use. They were able to do that because of a $40,000 donation from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. Andee Chamberlain is sustainability program manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife. She says the solar panels are black and are on the roof and sides of the headquarters building.

"Solar energy is generated from the sun. So the sun’s rays hit the panels and there’s some reactions that happen within the panel and take that sun’s energy and convert it to direct current energy," she says.

That direct energy is what is powering up the lights, air conditioning and computers in the headquarters building at Enchanted Rock. It’s supplying half the energy needed for the building. On days where the park doesn’t use all of the solar power generated, the energy’s transferred to the electric grid where it’s stored.

Chamberlain says Texas Parks and Wildlife has so far installed solar panels in 19 other state parks in addition to Enchanted Rock. But this park, known for the pink rock dome hikers flock to climb, is the leader in sustainability.

"They’ve installed Dark Sky Initiative, so the night sky’s protected, and you’re able to see those beautiful stars," she says. "They’ve installed water bottle refill stations, so if you take your own water bottle, you’ll be able to refill it right there at the water fountain. They have a recycling project going, and now the solar panels, so they’re really closing the loop."

Chamberlain says Enchanted Rock’s comprehensive approach to sustainability may be a model for other state parks in Texas.

Visitors to Enchanted Rock will have the opportunity to learn about how energy is generated from solar power, and how it benefits the earth and the park.