Solar company contributes to Education Foundation

174 Power Global donated $25,000 to the Education Foundation of Odessa Tuesday in the ECISD Administration Building. From left are Stephanie Howard, Mariann Bagley, Henry Yun, Du Hyoung Ryoo, Celeste Potter, Charles Carlson, Hortencia Del Bosque and Jason Osborne.

The Education Foundation got a large check — in both senses of the word — Tuesday from 174 Power Global and its mother company Hanwha Energy.

The oversized $25,000 check was presented on the third floor of the Ector County Independent School District administration building.

Foundation Director Celeste Potter said the funds will be put into the nonprofit’s 2020 budget and go straight back into the school district.

“… I’m very honored that they selected us. We met with them briefly before the presentation and they said upon coming here that they met with several individuals from the community and they all kind of suggested the Education Foundation, so (we’re) very proud and very honored that we were selected. I hope we can be good stewards of their money and make an impact on education,” Potter said.

She noted that the foundation uses zero-based budgeting, so every penny it raises goes back to ECISD.

“That’s $25,000 more than we had budgeted that we’re going to be pouring back into ECISD next year,” Potter said. “Right now, we’ve finalized our budget for 2018 because we operate on a calendar year, not a school district year, so we’ve already budgeted for grants. This money will probably go into our 2020 budget and I imagine most of it will go toward grants and specific program support …”

Potter said the Education Foundation board of directors is developing a five-year strategic plan that will allow it to provide “ultimate support to the district.”

“… The world is changing and the foundation is committed to helping ECISD equip our students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful,” she said in a news release.

This ties in with a five-year strategic plan that ECISD is building with its new administration.

Under the new strategic plan, Potter said the Education Foundation is evaluating all the programs that it currently contributes to and programs that it may not fund currently, but may need funding.

“I would imagine in January 2020 you’re going to see a new and improved Education Foundation. We’re setting the bar high,” Potter said.

174 Power Global Director of Project Development Jason Garewal said the company hopes to start construction on the Oberon Solar project around April. The site is a little bit west of Penwell and east of Monahans on Interstate 20.

“It could be a little bit later; it could be earlier. We haven’t figured that exact date out yet. It will begin operations about a year later, so in the spring of 2020 we’ll begin operations. We hope that it will continue operations for 25 to 30 years,” Garewal said.

“We hope that all of Ector County will benefit in the form of property taxes. That’s a big benefit to the area. Also, we’re bringing in several hundred jobs for construction and there will be several long-term jobs that will be created for the operation of the project,” he added.

The company did some research before deciding to make a donation to the foundation.

“We spent a lot of time talking to people. … We did some interviews with people about which organizations are well run and which ones are benefiting children in the community. And just about every single one of them mentioned the Odessa Education Foundation, so here we are,” Garewal said.

He added that the company makes contributions as a matter of policy.

“… When we start a project in Texas, we donate to the local community and we try to find good organizations doing good things,” Garewal said.

Two representatives were present from Seoul, South Korea.

“They’re here for the day,” Garewal said. “They’ll also be doing a site visit out west of here.”

Henry Yun, president/CEO of 174 Power Global, said the company is glad to give to the Education Foundation.

“… Education is very important to us. We believe this is a very good investment to develop a future workforce to support solar development for the next generation. We’re very excited to be part of the community and give something back,” Yun said.

“Our general view is that the energy market is very healthy and Texas is the largest energy market with oil and gas, but it’s also very strong in renewables, such as wind energy. … We believe that solar will also be a very strong component of the energy mix, and having developed solar farms here will really help educate the local community, as well as future generations. By making this donation, we’ll further support that,” Yun added.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 1:45 pm

By Ruth Campbell

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