Mt. Hood’s solar picnic tables juice up community college’s students

The picnic tables allow Mt. Hood Community College students such as Maria Mendez (left) and Betania Silva to charge their electronic devices while they enjoy the great Gresham outdoors.

The picnic tables allow Mt. Hood Community College students such as Maria Mendez (left) and Betania Silva to charge their electronic devices while they enjoy the great Gresham outdoors.

Creating renewable energy isn’t exactly a picnic.

Unless one’s at Mt. Hood Community College, that is. MHCC’s students can soon get a charge while they’re sitting in the great outdoors at what the school’s billing as the Northwest’s first “solar picnic tables.” The three picnic tables will double as solar-powered charging stations for laptops, cell phones, tablets, cameras and other electronic devices.

The Lansing, Mich.-based manufacturer EnerFusion Inc. said the Solar Power-Dok tables are the first set of picnic charging spots it’s distributed west of the Mississippi. The tables cost Mt. Hood’s Associated Student Government $11,000 each. The purchase was funded through student fees.

Each table comes with four standard power outlets and two USB ports. The Solar Dok’s solar panels can collect enough energy to power its outlets even during the cloudiest of Gresham days.

The tables are made out of recycled milk cartons, some 1,200 of which comprise one of the sitting spots. They’re illuminated at night by LED lights that are also powered by the solar panels.

The Solar Dok is the third sustainable gift bequeathed by the Mt. Hood student group. Last year, the students donated 12 water filling stations, which replaced traditional drinking fountains with filtered water. The Student Government also donated recycling bins a year earlier.

“Beyond providing new places for students to gather and charge their electronic gadgets, I’m particularly excited about the tables sparking conversations around renewable energy and ways new technology can help us and the planet simultaneously,” said David Sussman, the school’s student union and specialized student services manager.

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