J.R. and SMU Reach for the Sun

Not together, mind you -- this isn't a joint project between Ewing Oil and the Hilltop. But both Larry Hagman, now positioning himself as the Anti-Palin, and Southern Methodist are making a singular push for solar power -- the former Dallas star in a highly publicized ad for a German photovoltaic module maker, and SMU with the installation of 68-panel solar array atop Patterson Hall, which it says is just the beginning of going solar.

The SMU project is, for now, as much an interactive science project as energy generator: You can click here to get a real-time readout from the panels -- fun, I guess. Says Michael Paul, SMU's Executive Director of Facilities Management and Sustainability, "Our engineering school researchers get a lot more access, the students get to see it as a normal item around campus, we get to see how easy it is to maintain and, as the price comes down, we get to look at other applications." Next to get paneled, more than likely: the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

Then there's Larry Hagman, whose switch to solar power -- which happened years ago -- is getting renewed interest since the debut yesterday of an ad in which he swears off his J.R. Ewing persona: "In the past, it was always about the oil. The oil was flowing, and so was the money. Too dirty. I quit it years ago." His reason for rebranding his Dallas character: the BP oil spill. "Since Sarah Palin is saying, 'Drill, baby, drill,' I'm saying, 'Shine, baby, shine.' It's a lot cheaper and cleaner."

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