Rawls College of Business brings light, power to Tent City - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Rawls College of Business brings light, power to Tent City

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Staff and students from the Rawls College of Business showed up at 10 a.m. Saturday to install 15 solar panels at Tent City.

The panels are the size of small television screens, but it only takes one to power two tents.

Tent City resident Heather Hotchkiss says the panels will be very helpful.

"It's very exciting," Hotchkiss said. "We've been waiting for this for a while. We knew it was coming, we just didn't know when, so it was actually a shocker to know that it was going to be today."

The solar panels will take the sun's rays and run them through a wire to charge a battery inside each tent. The battery will power lights inside the tent or provide power for other things residents may need.

"A lot of us have jobs starting early in the morning. Sometimes you don't have light and trying to get ready for work is a hassle," Hotchkiss said.

Military tents do a great job blocking the wind and dust, but they also block the sunlight. That's where the Energy Commerce Department at Texas Tech Rawls College of Business stepped in.

The department conducts a program every summer providing power for people in the Peruvian mountains. Department head Jerry McInturff leads the program. One summer after coming back home, his wife explained the problem in Tent City.

McInturff arranged funding and told his student, Rob Buelna, to make it happen.

"I went to some folks here in town - Sanco Metal Fabricators. I told them exactly what I needed. They fabricated the steel brackets for me and we just put it together," Buelna said.

"It essentially trickle charges that battery and keeps it charged. Those batteries will run whether it's night time, bad weather - whether they are not getting sun those batteries will run for 22 hours," Buelna said.

Buelna is happy to help Tent City and he always brings his family with him to teach them the importance of giving a helping hand. He feels the community needs to do more to help tent city residents.

"Folks out here really appreciate it. They've been out here, the tenants of Tent City, they've been out here digging the holes and helping us. They're happy to have us and we're happy to do it," Buelna said.

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