NC GreenPower announced 15 North Carolina schools that will receive a solar education kit valued at approximately $ 42,000, and Waynesville Middle School was among those selected.
Solar + Schools is a grant program that funds solar educational projects in schools. The projects include a 5-kilowatt grid, a weather station, data monitoring, a STEM program, and training for around five or six teachers. Any kindergarten to grade 12 school in North Carolina can apply for the program, and this year Amanda Wells, a Waynesville Middle STEM teacher, decided to give it a go.
“We thought it would be a great way for students to get hands-on learning if we could actually install a solar cell,” Wells said. “That way they could see the installed system, see the process of its operation, take data and see how it affects the solar cell system.”
The package Waynesville Middle will receive is valued at around $ 42,000, but it’s not a done deal yet.
Waynesville Middle is still responsible for raising $ 9,000 for future maintenance of the solar system. Using NC GreenPower’s fundraising platform, he has until September 30 to raise funds. Donations of as little as $ 1 can be made to support the school’s campaign, and the community is invited to donate to the cause at donate.ncgreenpower.org/team/356320.
Once the installation is complete, which is expected to be in early 2022, Waynesville Middle will join 42 other school winners since the Solar + Schools program launched in 2015.
“I think it’s going to be really cool for Waynesville Middle,” Wells said. “Instead of talking about running the tests and talking about how solar cells work, they’re actually going to learn and see it.”
In order to find a good place to install the new solar module, Wells said Haywood County Schools Maintenance Director Josh Mease came to examine the property and make suggestions.
NC GreenPower will bring in its own engineers to decide on the best location, but Wells said Waynesville Middle has some ideas in mind for where it could be installed.
To be successful, the panel will need to be located where the sun reaches a certain angle. Since WMS does not have a roof that faces the sun, the module will likely be a stand-alone setup rather than a rooftop version.
“The sites we’re looking at are setting it up next to Building A or in a lot next to the school,” Wells said. “Or we talked about the softball field. We expect to be able to use it by early 2022. We are delighted.
Help schools learn
Solar + Schools is now in its seventh year and staff remain optimistic about its future.
“This year’s response to our Solar + Schools program has been fantastic, especially given the many challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Vicky McCann, vice president of NC GreenPower.
“We are delighted to be working in six new counties, with schools in the center and far west of our state, as well as one on the Outer Banks. We look forward to helping educate the younger generations about energy with these solar installations, and by the end of next year we will have reached over 41,600 students across North Carolina, ”said McCann.
The installed solar panels serve as an educational tool for teaching students and have an energy impact, likely producing enough renewable energy to power a school’s main office. Solar panels generated an average of 8,026 kilowatt hours per year, which could save schools up to $ 800 per year. Collectively, NC GreenPower Solar + Schools saved nearly $ 43,000 in electricity costs.
In addition, the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Foundation continues to support Solar + schools. The SECU Foundation’s contribution will provide up to $ 20,000 in additional funding to each of the five selected public schools.
“Since we started supporting the Solar + Schools initiative in 2015, we have seen this program grow and expand, helping so many schools in our state to have a working solar panel on campus,” said said Jama Campbell, Executive Director of the SECU Foundation. “The NC GreenPower Solar + Schools program continues to provide valuable educational resources and energy saving opportunities, and we are pleased to assist them in their ongoing efforts to make a positive difference for our schools, teachers and students. “
McCann of NC GreenPower added, “We appreciate the members of SECU for their continued financial support and partnership, helping us to improve the environment and increase solar education in our state.
Funding for this project was provided, in part, by NC GreenPower, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 whose mission is to expand public awareness and acceptance of cleaner energy technologies among all North Carolina North through local and community initiatives.