With the mission of improving the quality of the environment in North Carolina, the nonprofit NC GreenPower was founded in 2003 as a statewide program. In 2015, NC GreenPower launched a new program to support solar PV installations at North Carolina K-12 schools.
NC GreenPower Solar Schools was launched on April 1, 2015. This pilot program uses a portion of NC GreenPower’s donations to provide matching grants for the installation of small solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (3-5 kilowatts, or kW) at North Carolina schools, providing clean, green, renewable energy. The Solar Schools pilot funds any eligible North Carolina K-12 school and gives teachers valuable tools to educate students about renewable energy.
In the first year of the pilot, four schools received the solar education package. In year two, five more were added:
Carolina International School, Cabarrus County
Central Park School for Children, Durham County
Mount Pleasant High School: Academy of Energy & Sustainability, Cabarrus County
NC School of Science and Mathematics, Durham County
Queens Creek Elementary School, Onslow County
Carolina International School and Mount Pleasant High School both held ribbon cuttings in May.
Carolina International School (CIS) in Concord is a K-12 public charter NC Green School of Quality on a sprawling 82-acre campus. It offers students both an international education and environmental focus. For their “Flipping the Switch” ceremony, students from CIS performed the musical medley “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In.” Though the weather wasn’t very sunny, the students were enthusiastic and excited about turning on the array and learning more about the solar power at their school.
Mount Pleasant High School is home to the Academy of Energy & Sustainability, a four-year academy affiliated with the National Academy Foundation of Engineering. The ribbon cutting ceremony featured a host of special speakers and honored guests, and students helped to recognize the long list of sponsors who made the solar project possible with donations to the school’s fundraising campaign.
Durham school holds ribbon cutting on the same day as the solar eclipse.
Central Park School for Children is the seventh school in North Carolina to receive a 5 kW solar array as part of the NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot program. On August 21, we were able to witness the highly anticipated solar eclipse at the ribbon cutting event! Central Park School for Children in Durham invited students and parents to view the eclipse and celebrate the new solar array. Students presented a song about the sun along with their teacher, Aaron Sebens. The school will integrate the 5 kW array into the teaching process by using data from its monitoring equipment, a provided curriculum, as well as classroom kits and field trip opportunities.
NC GreenPower Solar Schools
The NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot is open to all North Carolina K-12 schools, but some preference may be given to those in economically distressed “Tier 1” counties, as defined by the NC Department of Commerce. Schools will be eligible for a 50 percent matching grant up to $10,000 and will then raise the balance of the cost. NC GreenPower will supplement the school’s fundraising efforts with marketing and social media campaigns, and will also provide a weather station, real-time monitoring equipment, and a curriculum and lesson plans for educators to use as a hands-on experience for students. NC GreenPower Vice President Vicky McCann says, “Our goal is to provide teachers and students with a really fantastic educational tool that can be used now and for many years into the future.”
The first- and second-year Solar School pilot donors helped to bring solar PV to almost 8,000 students at four schools in North Carolina. In 2017, the third year of the pilot, NC GreenPower expects to provide educational systems to an additional 2,000 students at five schools.
NC GreenPower is also partnering with the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Foundation, who provided a $10,000 matching challenge grant to every school, allowing them to increase their system from 3 kW to 5 kW. The major components of the system include 12 Sunpower solar modules supplied by NC GreenPower, interactive inverters, and internet monitoring systems that provide solar irradiation, ambient air temperature, module temperature and other data. These systems serve as educational tools in the classroom but also provide an energy impact: The solar array produces an estimated 6,570 kilowatt-hours, enough to power the school’s main office, and has a potential cost savings of about $650 annually.
To learn more about how you can support the NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot and help grant funds to more schools in 2018, please visit www.ncgp.org/solar-schools/.
About NC GreenPower
Since the launch of the program, NC GreenPower renewable energy projects have generated 868 million kilowatt-hours of green power. Donors have contributed nearly $6 million in incentive payments to more than 1,020 renewable energy projects in almost every county across North Carolina. That’s the equivalent of providing 60,400 houses with energy for a year. Carbon offset projects have mitigated 54,600 tonnes of greenhouse gases – equivalent to the emissions from driving 152 million miles – and that’s like planting 9.26 million trees.
Donations to the program can be made by individuals or businesses through their utility bill or directly to NC GreenPower. Projects are located only within North Carolina, so you can be assured that your contribution will stay local, supporting a brighter future. To support NC GreenPower and learn more about the Solar Schools pilot, visit www.ncgreenpower.org. Contributions to the program are tax-deductible.