Over the past year, solar energy has made an impact on school campuses and in the lives of North Carolina students, thanks to the NC GreenPower (NCGP) Solar Schools pilot program, supported by local communities as well as the member-funded State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Foundation. In 2015, SECU members teamed with NCGP to help jumpstart the energy initiative with a two-year investment of up to $ 140,000, providing funding to assist 14 K-12 schools with the opportunity for a 5-kW campus solar array system.
The expansion of renewable energy and integration of solar power to North Carolina schools brings with it both financial and educational benefits for school systems, teachers and students. East Columbus High School (ECHS) in Lake Waccamaw participated in the pilot and has an operational 5-kW solar array on site. ECHS Business Education teacher LaTanya Pattillo shared her thoughts on why it was important to take part in 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.”
Since launching the program in 2015, nine K-12 schools have successfully achieved their campaign goal of raising an initial $ 10,000 as part of NCGP’s program requirements. Four Solar School participants received matching grants from both NCGP and SECU Foundation in 2016 to complete their campus solar installation, with five schools to receive matching funds and system installation this year.
“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.”
Applications are currently being accepted for NCGP’s 2017 Solar Schools pilot – five additional schools will be selected to complete the initiative. The application deadline is February 24, 2017. For program information, visit NC GreenPower’s website, www.ncgreenpower.org/our-impact/#solar-schools.
News item from SECU