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NC GreenPower brings solar to North Carolina schools

In October 2003, NC GreenPower was launched to supplement the state’s existing power supply with more green energy – that is, energy generated from renewable energy sources like the sun, wind, water, and organic matter. At its 10 year anniversary in 2013, the NC GreenPower Board of Directors began a two-year strategic planning process to study the potential of transitioning the program into one that supports solar photovoltaic (PV) projects that have a broader impact on our local communities.  

NC GreenPower Solar Schools was introduced on April 1, 2015. This pilot program uses a portion of current donations to provide matching grants for the installation of small solar PV systems (3-5 kW) at North Carolina schools, providing clean, green renewable energy. The NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot offers matching funds to any eligible North Carolina K-12 school, giving teachers valuable tools to educate students about renewable energy.  

This pilot is open to all schools but some preference may be given to those schools in Tier 1 counties, as defined by the NC Department of Commerce. This program is not exclusive to Tier 1 counties and schools in ALL counties are encouraged to apply. 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. As part of the pilot, NC GreenPower will also provide a weather station, real-time monitoring equipment, and develop curriculum and lesson plans for educators to use for their school’s grade levels, providing a hands-on experience for their 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.”

We are also pleased to be partnered with the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Foundation who is offering a $10,000 matching challenge grant to any awarded public school who is successful in raising their funds, allowing them to increase their system to a 5 kW array.

All four first year pilot NC GreenPower Solar Schools successfully raised funds and received a matching grant from both NC GreenPower and the SECU Foundation. The selected schools for 2015 were:

  • E. Jordan High School, Durham County
  • East Columbus High School, Columbus County
  • Meadowview Magnet Middle School, Surry County
  • New Bern High School, Craven County

In year two, the pilot provided matching funds to five more North Carolina K-12 schools. 2016 Solar Schools were:     

  • Carolina International School, Cabarrus County
  • Central Park School for Children, Durham County
  • Pleasant High School: Academy of Energy & Sustainability, Cabarrus County
  • NC School of Science and Mathematics, Durham County
  • Queens Creek Elementary School, Onslow County

NC GreenPower is pleased to announce the NC Utilities Commission has approved an extension for year three of our pilot program! Any school representative wishing to apply for the 2017 NC GreenPower Solar School grant should visit our website here for more information. Please note that there have been some changes to the fundraising amounts since the previous application period, so be sure to review the new info. Submissions will be due by 5:00 pm EST on Friday, February 24, 2017.

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.


Katie Shepherd Lebrato

Katie Shepherd Lebrato is the marketing and communications manager for NC Green Power.