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Patrick Dempsey represents nationwide solar initiative

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Everything really is coming up solar these days. Just this week we reported on the boom in solar usage across the country, hitting record numbers in 2011. We also checked in on a locally based program retrofitting homes in East L.A. with solar panels. Now a philanthropic effort initiative looks to donate solar equipment to “local schools, health clinics, and nongovernmental organizations and building the infrastructure to sustain the investment, including a network of supportive local partners, local installers, and system component providers.”

Manufacturer Trina Solar Limited is driving the effort, with actor and part-time racecar driver Patrick Dempsey serving as a spokesperson for the project.

“Solar power can be a practical solution to the critical issues facing the nation’s population and environment,” Dempsey said in a press release. “Solar is ready today to help local communities, as well as to create jobs and new businesses.

The project is an extension of a video Dempsey made last year called “Plug Me In, Light Me Up," which highlighted the benefits of solar energy. It was also last year when Dempsey’s racing team partnered with Trina to provide solar equipment to “Victory Junction,” a North Carolina summer camp for chronically ill children. The company also retooled several Habitat For Humanity homes in Texas with solar upgrades.