One of three types of solar panels installed on the roofs of two Pasadena Independent School District high schools in February 2011 as a result of NELC’s lawsuit against Shell Oil’s refinery and chemical complex.

Houston, TX – Thanks to the 2009 consent decree negotiated by NELC lawyers in the Clean Air Act lawsuit brought by Environment Texas and Sierra Club against Shell Oil Company, two Houston high schools near Shell Oil’s refining and chemical complex are reaping the benefits of a solar energy pilot project completed last fall. The project was fully funded with $2 million from the record $5.8 million penalty paid by Shell for emissions violations at its Deer Park, Texas, refinery and chemical plant.

In addition to saving the schools thousands of dollars in annual energy costs, the 700 solar panels installed on the schools’ roofs are demonstrating the benefits of alternative energy and educating students on renewable energy technology. The two schools have employed multiple solar panel designs, and a kiosk in the foyer of each school allows students and visitors to compare and contrast the technologies, and to monitor the electricity generated through a web-based interactive program.

The consent decree also requires Shell to fund a project to reduce emissions from diesel school buses, as well as to upgrade its technology and cut emissions from air pollution “upsets” at its Deer Park plants by 80%. According to recent reports NELC has received from Shell, the company is meeting its new emissions caps, is improving the management of its emissions flaring devices, and is on track with extensive equipment upgrades to resolve the persistent failures that were the target of the lawsuit.