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Crowdfunding Campaign Helps Schools Go Solar

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Crowdfunding Campaign Helps Schools Go Solar

At least three schools will receive solar panels, utility savings and renewable energy education as a result of a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) campaign.

The NRDC has taken to the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo, in an attempt to fund solar panel installations for three to five schools. The goal is to raise $54,000. As of Thursday afternoon, the NRDC was still trying to reach the halfway point of its goal.

The NRDC wants to help schools mirror Firebaugh-Las Deltas United Schools in California. The district saved about $900,000 after going solar, allowing it to bring back a previously cut music program for 2,300 students. The presence of solar panels also inspired more education on renewables for students and teachers.

The fundraiser ends in 15 days. In the meantime, the NRDC is creating a website for districts to apply for solar funding. Contributors will be able to vote on which districts should receive the money.

“What’s different about our program is that it aims to make solar an option for any school, anywhere, by beginning with local school administrators, parents, teachers, students and communities, and giving them the tools they need to make solar power a reality,” Jay Orfield, environmental innovation fellow in NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation, said.

The Solar Foundation, Community Power Network, The Green School Alliance and Three Birds Foundation are partnering with NRDC on the campaign.

“Our ultimate goal is help every school that wants solar power to get it,” said NRDC Renewable Energy Policy Director Nathanael Greene.

“If we can hold fundraisers for field trips and sports teams, we can do the same to get our schools on solar.”

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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