The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
This School District Could Save Millions by Switching to 100% Solar
Schools all across the country have been switching to solar to save money and reduce their environmental impact, and North Carolina may be the next state to benefit.
Two reports, released today by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and commissioned by the Repower Our Schools coalition, found that two North Carolina school districts can go 100 percent renewable.
The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, based at NC State University, found that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Durham Public Schools can meet 100 percent of their electricity needs and save millions over the next 25 years by installing solar panels to power their schools immediately.
Reducing energy costs is a smart way to direct more money into the classroom, where it’s needed most. Utility bills are the second largest expense for school districts after personnel costs, according to the U.S. EPA.
With more solar-friendly policies in the state, including third party energy sales and improved net metering, the school districts’ savings would jump 14 times compared to the current benefits of going solar. North Carolina is one of only a handful of states with a legal gray area that effectively blocks purchasing electricity from anyone but the utility.
Solar policy improvements could save $54.6 million for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and $16.3 million for Durham Public Schools over 25 years, an 11 percent savings over what they pay for electricity now, with minimal upfront costs. The savings over 25 years would be equivalent to 1,357 annual starting teacher salaries for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and 414 for Durham Public Schools, which is a substantially smaller school district.
Here’s an infographic that explains the benefits of third party energy sales and net metering:
Not only does solar save money, it can also be a teaching tool for science, technology, engineering, and math.
“Solar installations at North Carolina schools would bring the jobs of tomorrow into the classroom today,” Dr. Wafa Khalil, a retired science and energy teacher of 23 years based in Durham, said. “Teachers could incorporate solar into the curriculum and let students witness its advantages firsthand.”
The reports recommend that both North Carolina school districts develop plans to move schools toward 100 percent renewable electricity long-term while continuing to make energy efficiency improvements and piloting solar projects today.
Parents, teachers and students who want to see their school districts go solar for the health, environmental and economic benefits can take action by calling on their school boards to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity.
Hanna Mitchell is North Carolina field organizer for Greenpeace.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."