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cover9Houston – Whether a Friday night high school game or a Sunday night tailgate, football is king in Texas.

Beginning in September, the Houston Texans will not only open up their new season to the roar of crowds and excited fans, but NRG Stadium and football will shine brighter than ever in Texas as NRG Stadium becomes the first professional stadium in the country to illuminate the field with energy-efficient LED lights.

NRG is working with the Texans to install hundreds of solar panels in and around the stadium.

Not only will NRG Stadium shine brightly with beautifully-efficient lights, but also it will be the first pro football stadium in Texas to be equipped with a solar installation.

More than 700 solar panels from NRG Haven Solar Canopies are located throughout NRG Park.

What that means is that each day the hot Houston sun that beats down on the stadium, it  will serve an even greater purpose —producing renewable energy and empowering fans.

According to Elizabeth Killinger, president of NRG Retail and Reliant, turning stadiums into generators of energy is a triple bottom-line proposition: it saves money for teams, helps them appeal to changing attitudes of their fan bases, and protects the environment.

“Football is a way to reach people and to show them that solar and LED lighting can work for them,” she said.

LEDs or light emitting diodes consume about 80 percent less energy than typical bulbs.

NRG, a national energy company that is the parent company of Reliant, rebranded Houston’s football stadium as NRG Stadium and is turning it into a showcase for the potential of clean energy.

When fans park in a covered parking lot, the roof above them will be studded with solar panels. As they proceed over a pair of pedestrian bridges, they’ll likewise be walking under a silent solar plant. The effort will turn the stadium from a net energy consumer to an energy supplier, which is to say the stadium will generate more electricity over the course of a year than it uses during game days.

The panels generate positive financial outcomes as well. Electricity is a fixed cost for stadium operators—powering the bright lights and the massive scoreboards require a lot of juice. Instead of pulling energy from the electric grid, which can be expensive, over the course of a year the panels at stadiums can generate up to two and a half times the amount of energy consumed on game days.

On weekdays, or during the off-season when the stadium doesn’t draw much power, the electricity it generates is pumped into the grid or used to power neighboring buildings. It will makes a big difference in how the beer is kept cold and the scoreboards are lit.

According to David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Marshall Sports Business Institute, investments can pay off in multiple ways that might not be apparent on game day. He stated that the cities and communities in which football teams operate are themselves seeking high-profile and useful ways to reduce their environmental footprint, and being ahead of the curve on this issue allows sports teams to engage positively on other issues.

“The team owners have to deal with municipalities and sponsors, and they want to be well valued by fans,” Carter said. “It’s a smart business decision.”

From groundbreaking NFL solar developments to massive solar and wind farms, NRG has been championing clean and sustainable energy solutions for years.

“The innovations we’ve been able to deliver so far – they excite me as I see them breathe new life into our industry and others answer the call to join us,” she said in a statement. “That excitement continues to build, because ultimately, it shows people that sustainable and distributed energy solutions are a reality now – in 2014, in Houston, Texas – and they empower people to choose their energy sources and take control of their energy destiny.”

Also, in conjunction with the new energy revolution, new electric vehicle parking areas will  feature eVgo® charging stations.

This environmental trend goes beyond just Houston. In several other NFL cities, teams are now helping to convert their fans into more conscientious energy consumers, saving money for their organizations and protecting the environment in the process.

The New England Patriots, New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles already play their home games under lights powered by the sun, and solar panels are being built into Levi’s Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers that is currently under construction.

The new lights at NRG Stadium are a reminder that we are here to illuminate the energy industry and power the modern lifestyle.

NRG considers itself  a “standard” energy provider; and  partners with consumers and introduce new technology that demonstrates the opportunities clean and sustainable energy solutions make possible.

“We are well on our way in this journey and are fully committed to leading us all to a new energy era,” she said.