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Grants fund solar power for schools

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, July 9, 2018

NC GreenPower has awarded a grant of up to $15,000 each to five North Carolina Schools including two schools in the Twin Counties.

Rocky Mount Prep and Edgecombe County Early College High School will each receive the grant funds for the the installation of an educational solar photovoltaic array on the school campuses. These schools join 14 other schools that have received grants since the pilot program launched in 2015.

“We are elated about the opportunity to provide new teaching experiences for our scholars mixed with the ability to conserve energy. This is a win-win for Rocky Mount Prep,” said Shaneki Cauble, business operations manager for Rocky Mount Prep.

The installed solar PV systems serve as educational tools in the classroom and will also provide an energy impact, likely producing enough renewable energy to power a school’s main office, a press release from NC GreenPower said. The solar arrays have generated an average of 8,026 kilowatt (kW) hours annually, potentially saving schools up to $803 per year.

Cauble said she and elementary STEM teacher Irene Brown applied for the grant because of their interest in energy efficiency.

“Rocky Mount Prep has always been interested in ways to educate and teach our scholars about ways to conserve energy. This opportunity intrigued me and was something I thought would help educate the scholars and our staff on how to do our part to reduce our energy consumption. While we offer recycling on campus, this is our next step thanks to the opportunity to receive the grant,” Cauble said

Cauble said she is impressed with educational benefits the grant will provide.

“This grant will mostly benefit the school through education,” Caulble said. “We know that scholars learn through observation and hands-on interaction. Part of the agreement as a recipient of the grant is teaching the scholars about various types of alternative energies and how to observe, record and analyze the energies saved through the solar panels. This is our goal, and hopefully we can extend this by also teaching our families and local communities about solar energy.”

Matt Smith, principal of Edgecombe County Early College High School, said his school’s grant was also written through a collaboration of administrators and science teachers.

“Our lead science teacher, Brittany White, is an innovator at heart and co-wrote this solar panel grant with me. Ms. White wanted to ramp up our science instruction around sustainable energy and to get our scholars energized by a transformative project. Her science students did a site analysis using Verneer probes to determine the best location for the solar array, and we used this data in our application for the grant.”

Smith said he expects the grant to benefit the school in multiple ways.

“Once it is installed, the solar array will directly offset much of the energy usage from our school. We will be able to track our total energy usage as well as our solar energy captured and determine other ways to reduce our school's carbon footprint. We expect this solar array project to have direct applications to our earth science, physical science and biology classes as well as several math applications,” Smith said.

Because the grant is a matching grant, both schools will need to raise additional funds before the Oct. 12 deadline.The selected schools will utilize the NC GreenPower fundraising website, my.NCGreenPower.org. to help in their fundraising efforts.

For more information about NC GreenPower, visit www.ncgreenpower.org.

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