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Entergy nuclear helps fund WMU solar race team

July 3, 2008

KALAMAZOO--When a Western Michigan University engineering team takes to the road this weekend to pit its solar racing prowess against that of other top engineering schools in the nation, the team will have the backing of West Michigan's nuclear power industry.

Entergy Corp., the national energy firm that owns and operates the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven, Mich., has donated $25,000 to the WMU Sunseeker Solar Racecar Project. Company officials formally presented the funds when they visited the campus last month to view the new vehicle being built for the 2008 North American Solar Challenge and meet with team members and their advisors.

"We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to support advancing technology that really marries with what we are doing in the nuclear energy industry," said Chris Schwarz, Entergy's site vice president at the Palisades plant, during his visit to campus. "The message of advancing 'green' technology is very much a part of the narrative of our industry."

Entergy officials have been frequent visitors on the WMU campus in recent years, hiring six recent engineering graduates and working with a number of other students in co-op positions as they approach graduation.

"Our industry is in growth mode and we intend to be highly visible on campus and supportive of student efforts," said John Broschak, director of engineering at Palisades. He told members of the Sunseeker team that plant employees will be following this year's race, and he hoped to have the car visit the South Haven plant after the race is over.

WMU's Sunseeker race team will leave for Texas July 4 to prepare for the start of the North American Solar Challenge, a 2,400-mile collegiate solar race that will cover the mid sections of two nations with race teams pulling power only from the sun. The race begins July 13 in Plano, Texas, and ends July 22 in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta. WMU will compete against engineering teams from 23 other colleges and universities. Two demonstration cars also are part of this year's race field. This year's race is sponsored by Toyota and Crowder College.

This is the ninth time WMU has fielded a car in the biennial race that features the best engineering schools from the United States and Canada. Teams compete by bypassing traditional fuel tanks and pulling all of their power from the sun. This year, entries from 24 colleges and universities are slated to race, along with two collegiate teams that are entering demonstration-only vehicles. The WMU team opted this year for a new design that is more aerodynamic and utilizes new technology.

For more information about the race, go online to www.americansolarchallenge.org. For information about WMU's Sunseeker project, visit www.wmich.edu/sunseeker. During the race, regular updates will be available in WMU News at www.wmich.edu/news.

The Palisades Power Plant has a capacity of 798 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the needs of a community of more than 500,000 residents.

Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 14,300 employees. Entergy's online address is www.entergy.com.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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