NC GreenPower

Solar Schools Pilot


Information for NC K-12 Schools Regarding the

NC GreenPower Solar Schools 2016 Application

Extended Pilot – Year Two

Solar-schools-photo-collage

Huge thanks to the State Employees Credit Union Foundation for their matching challenge grant of $10,000 for each of our 2015 pilot schools!

We are pleased to announce that the schools awarded in the first year of the pilot have successfully raised their funds for a 5 kW solar PV array! All 2015 NC GreenPower solar schools have received their $10,000 grant from NC GreenPower and a matching challenge grant of $10,000 from the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Foundation.

We want to thank all the donors who contributed money to the schools through our fundraising website or by other means. The four selected schools for 2015 are:

  • C.E. Jordan High School, Durham County
  • East Columbus High School, Columbus County
  • Meadowview Magnet Middle School, Surry County – Photos of solar PV ribbon cutting event
  • New Bern High School, Craven County

After careful review of applications, we have selected schools for Year 2 of our Solar Schools Pilot Program! We want to thank everyone who applied and encourage K-12 schools to apply in early 2017.                              

The five schools selected in 2016 are:

  • Carolina International School, Public Charter School located in Cabarrus County
  • Central Park School for Children, Durham County
  • Mt. Pleasant High School: Academy for Energy and Sustainability, Cabarrus County
  • NC School of Science and Mathematics, Durham County
  • Queens Creek Elementary, Onslow County

The Solar Schools Pilot Year 2 application is currently closed. More information can be found below.

 

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NC GreenPower Solar Schools Pilot 2016

The following are dates associated with the NC GreenPower Solar Schools extended year two pilot:

Application period opens…………………………………………… January 4, 2016

Applications due to NC GreenPower………………………….. February 26, 2016 by 5PM

Applications should be emailed to solarschools@ncgreenpower.org and applicants should state in the subject heading of the email “Solar Schools Pilot Application – [insert school name].”

NC GreenPower Board Committee review…………………. February 29-April 1, 2016

NC GreenPower notifies selected schools………………….. April 6, 2016

Deadline for school’s acceptance of award………………… May 6, 2016

NC GreenPower announces selected schools…………….. May 13, 2016

Deadline for school to have matching funds………………. September 30, 2016

Expected date for solar PV to be installed by……………… December 31, 2016

 

Download this page as a pdf here.

Issue Date: January 6, 2016

Application Deadline: February 26, 2016 5:00 PM

TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES REGARDING NC GREENPOWER SOLAR SCHOOLS, VISIT THIS PAGE.

TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES REGARDING NC GREENPOWER INVESTOR AND CROWD-SOURCE FUNDED RENEWABLE ENERGY, VISIT THIS PAGE.

 

Introduction

This document serves to notify educators, administrators and facility managers at K-12 schools in North Carolina that NC GreenPower is seeking to provide grant funding for the cost and installation of a small 3-5 kW solar photovoltaic (“PV”) demonstration system with monitoring equipment and curriculum. In the second year of the pilot program, NC GreenPower estimates there will be funding for up to 10 school grants providing the lesser of 50% or $10,000 for each system. This document provides program information, eligibility criteria, funding details, the application process and an estimated timeline for the pilot program. (Please see page 3 for additional eligibility information.)

NC GreenPower’s Mission

NC GreenPower is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of the environment in North Carolina through a statewide program that connects consumers with green energy and carbon offset providers. Donations to the program may be made through electric utility bills or directly to our organization through our website.

Formed in 2003, NC GreenPower is administered by Advanced Energy, a nonprofit that focuses on energy efficiency for residential, commercial and industrial markets, motors and drives and electric transportation.

About the Solar Schools Pilot

The launch of the NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot comes after 20 months of discussions and with approvals by both the NC GreenPower and Advanced Energy Boards of Directors and the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) to modify the current program. The revisions allow NC GreenPower to not only continue support of eligible renewable energy generators but to expand support for the installation of solar PV at schools across North Carolina.

This model will give financial support to schools that cannot afford a system and/or take advantage of tax credits. It will also enable NC GreenPower to continue education and awareness efforts around renewable energy in communities across the state and provide lesson plans and curriculum as additional educational tools for both educators and students in North Carolina.

 

Eligible Applicants

Public and private K-12 schools that are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are eligible to apply for the NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot. The pilot is open to all K-12 schools in North Carolina.

We expect that the applicant will have the ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of solar technology across a broad range of subject areas/classes. The applicant must own the property on which the project will be installed or have prior approval from the property owner when applying. The applicant should not already have solar photovoltaic (PV) technology installed on the property.

Schools must be located in North Carolina and must be served by one of these North Carolina electric utilities:

  • Investor-owned utilities (Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, Duke Energy Progress, Inc., or Dominion North Carolina Power)
  • North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives or
  • ElectriCities of North Carolina members

Evaluation Process and Criteria

All applications will be reviewed by an NC GreenPower Board Committee to determine whether the project and fundraising is feasible at the school. Selections will be made on a number of the following criterion:

  • Applicant should not already have solar technology installed on school property.
  • 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.  Schools in all counties are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicant school should be highly motivated to teach about energy and renewables.
  • School should be able to demonstrate their ability to integrate the solar PV demonstration project into their curriculum.
  • Schools will be required to do a Post-Installation Solar Evaluation to assess both the environmental and educational benefits from the solar PV system.
  • The NC GreenPower Board Committee will strive to achieve geographic balance and diversity among grant awardees, if possible.

Applicants who are selected for the Solar Schools pilot will receive an award notice stating the amount of funds to be granted and the required match. Schools should contact their local school boards/commissions in advance of the award notice for approval to participate as schools will only have 30 days to accept the grant.  Schools will have until September 30, 2016 (approx. 21 weeks) to raise the matching funds.

Funding

NC GreenPower estimates that there will be funding for up to 10 school grants for the pilot program. The total number of awards will be dependent on donations made to the program. NC GreenPower will pay for 50% of the project’s costs, up to a maximum of $10,000 (whichever is less).  The school may raise the remaining balance using the my.NCGreenPower.org fundraising tool or other method of the school’s choosing. The State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Foundation will provide a matching challenge grant of $10,000 if the school is successful in raising their funds. Interested schools should apply to NC GreenPower for consideration to receive a 3-5 kW solar PV system; larger systems will be allowed but the schools will need to raise the additional funds to support the effort.

Applicants who are awarded grant funding must demonstrate that matching funds are available, in-hand or otherwise committed before NC GreenPower will begin the installation process. Matching funds may not be in the form of in-kind goods or services. The selected school can self-promote their project and start a “campaign” through my.NCGreenPower.org.  NC GreenPower will assist in marketing fundraising campaigns launched on my.NCGreenPower.org through social media channels and at events to help the school with raising funds and awareness. This crowd-source funding campaign will make it easy for communities to contribute funds to support the renewable project at the school. For all school-raised funds, NC GreenPower will retain a small percentage (10%) to cover program costs as directed by the NC GreenPower Board of Directors; the remaining funds will be used to support the solar PV system at the school.  Donations to NC GreenPower are non-refundable and tax-deductible and will be used to support only in-state projects.

If a school does not raise enough funds, it may have options such as extending their fundraising deadline by 30 days, decreasing the size of solar PV system to reduce project costs, or donating the money raised to another school’s fund of their choice or of NC GreenPower’s choice.  Additional options may be available to assist a school in its fundraising efforts.

If a school exceeds its fundraising goals, the school may use the additional funds to increase the size of the solar PV system, pay NC GreenPower or a contractor to provide energy efficiency consulting/upgrades or donate the funds to another school that is raising money for an NC GreenPower solar PV project.

Schools that are awarded grant funding can start campaigns on the my.NCGreenPower.org website but only one campaign can be started per project.  Projects are not eligible for NC GreenPower incentives (REC agreement) and all campaigns and projects must be authorized by NC GreenPower.

 

Application Process

Applications may be sent to NC GreenPower through the below pdf file. Applications should be emailed to solarschools@ncgreenpower.org and applicants should state in the subject heading of the email “Solar Schools Pilot Application – [insert school name].”

Please download the pdf form and open in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to fill out the form. Once completed, you may use the purple “Submit Form” in the upper right hand corner. If you are unable to fill the form out electronically, please print, fill out and email to solarschools@ncgreenpower.org.

Link to application: 2016 NC GreenPower Solar Schools Application

 

Installation and Management Process

NC GreenPower will choose a qualified installer and manage the installation process for the awarded school. To increase reliability and reduce maintenance requirements, the solar PV system should be grid-tied and should not be battery-based.

A school staff member(s) can also be trained by NC GreenPower to be the primary providers of operation/maintenance (O&M) services which should be minimal and will save the school the expense of hiring a contractor except for more serious issues.  The goal will be to raise an extra 10% of the actual project cost so that expenses for O&M training for staff are covered after the project installation.

NC GreenPower will hold all contributions and funds raised by the school to pay the contractor upon satisfactorily completing the installation of the solar PV system.  Completed projects will display the appropriate signage/recognition of NC GreenPower and any corporate sponsors who donated to support the project.

 

Information for Solar Contractors

NC GreenPower issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on January 25, 2016.  The purpose of the RFQ is to identify qualified solar contractors with whom NC GreenPower can engage to install the solar PV systems. NC GreenPower anticipates that installations at selected schools will begin at the end of 2016. All responses are due by Friday, February 26, 2016 by 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) to be considered under this RFQ. For additional information,  download the full RFQ pdf here.

Curriculum

NC GreenPower will create or modify existing educational materials on solar PV for the schools to fully maximize the benefit of having the system as a teaching tool. The developed curriculum will consist of appropriate materials to engage both teachers and students in multiple subject areas.  The curriculum will include information on other renewable energy sources as the program may expand beyond solar PV in the future.  NC GreenPower will also provide curricula training to educators at each awarded school; training will be a mandatory requirement for a minimum of 2-3 teachers per school.  Training will be scheduled following the completion of fundraising.  Educators will be required to provide feedback/recommendations on curriculum semi-annually through the school year so continuous program improvements can be made.

Timeline

The following are dates associated with the NC GreenPower Solar Schools pilot:

Application period opens…………………………………………… January 4, 2016

Applications due to NC GreenPower………………………….. February 26, 2016 by 5PM

Applications should be emailed to solarschools@ncgreenpower.org and applicants should state in the subject heading of the email “Solar Schools Pilot Application – [insert school name].”

NC GreenPower Board Committee review…………………. February 29-April 1, 2016

NC GreenPower notifies selected schools………………….. April 6, 2016

Deadline for school’s acceptance of award………………… May 6, 2016

NC GreenPower announces selected schools…………….. May 13, 2016

Deadline for school to have matching funds………………. September 30, 2016

Expected date for solar PV to be installed by……………… December 31, 2016

 

 

Questions

Inquiries about the process are requested to be in writing, preferably by email to solarschools@ncgreenpower.org. Responses will be posted below so that all applicants have access to the same information. Any updates to the application or process will also be posted on this page.

Our school isn’t in a Tier 1 county and you mentioned in pilot year one you have a preference for Tier 1 schools. Should we apply?
Absolutely! The success of the pilot (and our future programs) will depend on the interest that we receive from all schools. We want to encourage schools with the most need to apply, but our program will consider any K-12 school in North Carolina.

Is your Solar Schools grant only for public schools?
The NC GreenPower Solar Schools matching grant is currently available to all K-12 schools in North Carolina.  NC GreenPower will provide the lesser of 50% of the project cost or up to $10,000 for a 3 kW solar PV system; the participating school will be responsible for raising the remaining funds.  The State Employees Credit Union Foundation provides a $10,000 matching grant to increase the system size to a 5 kW but only public schools are eligible for this funding.

 

TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES REGARDING NC GREENPOWER SOLAR SCHOOLS, VISIT THIS PAGE.

TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES REGARDING NC GREENPOWER INVESTOR AND CROWD-SOURCE FUNDED RENEWABLE ENERGY, VISIT THIS PAGE.