Steven Chu

LCV president Gene Karpinski and DOE-secretary-designate Steven Chu.

Groups around Washington, D.C., marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inauguration eve with a national day of service. One service effort was the kick-off to the installation of solar panels at Sousa Junior High School in the southeastern part of the city.

The efforts were led by the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Standard Solar; SunPower, Wal-Mart Inc., Waste Management Inc.; and Washington Gas Energy Services, along with the city’s government. They distributed home weatherization kits to families in the neighborhood as well.

Grist couldn’t make it out for the event, but apparently incoming Secretary of Energy Steven Chu stopped by and spoke to volunteers: “What you’re doing today is the single most important thing we can be doing in the coming decades – promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Chu said. “Years ago, communities came together to raise a neighbor’s barn. In the future, I hope that communities will come together, like you are today, to weatherize each other’s homes, to conserve energy, make homes more comfortable, save money, and save the planet.”

The groups are installing $20,000 worth of solar panels and equipment, donated by Standard Solar, Washington Gas Energy Services, and SunPower. The installation is being completed by IBEW electricians at John Kelly & Sons Electrical Construction. The panels should be up and running in a few weeks, according to the groups.

“What we did today foreshadowed the incredible economic potential of President-elect Obama’s plan to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by investing in clean, renewable energy,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski at the event.