There is no better way to teach students about renewable energy than installing rooftop arrays on schools so they can learn from the benefits of solar first-hand and in real time. That's what is happening in North Carolina thanks to the North Carolina GreenPower Solar Schools pilot program and the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation (SECU). They have teamed up to fund a 2-year investment of up to $140,000 to assist 14 K-12 schools throughout the state install 3- to 5-kilowatt campus solar arrays.
East Carteret High School (ECHS) in Beaufort, NC, was one of the schools that has received a 5-kilowatt solar array through the program. “The appeal of this project was three-fold for us: It could give our students a chance to explore solar energy and its environmental impact; as a business department we could explore workforce opportunities, and it was a project that would bring schools and the community together, said LaTanya Pattillo business education teacher at ECHS.
The credit union has committed $10,000 to each applicant school that’s successful in matching grants to install solar. Of the nine schools that achieved raising $10,000, four received matching grants from the SECU in 2016, five will receive funding in 2017. A final five schools will be chosen this year and that will deplete the pilot program’s funding.
“Since 2007, SECU Foundation has been an advocate and partner of NC GreenPower’s programs to raise awareness about renewable energy sources,” said Jim Johnson, SECU Foundation board chair. “SECU members are proud to support the Solar Schools program, which is providing valuable educational benefits and making a powerful and positive difference in the consumption of traditional electricity for our schools and state.”
Solar developers and school districts cooperating to install solar on campuses in the US is not a new concept. For instance, SunPower has partnered with 23 school districts across California to install its Helix carports in an attempt to save schools money on energy consumption while teaching students the economic, health and environmental benefits of sustainable culture.
Similarly, the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator launched by the Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with two states, six school districts and other national organizations, aim to design and construct zero-energy school buildings across the US. The DOE estimates that these schools could save 65- to 85-percent in power consumption. One school in that program, Discovery School in Arlington, VA, is expected to save $75,000 in energy costs in the first year of its solar operation—alone.Tweet