Coalition Launches Campaign to Repower Charlotte and Durham School Districts with 100% Renewable Energy
January 27, 2015
Clean, renewable energy would mean healthier kids, cleaner cities and well-resourced classrooms
Charlotte, North Carolina – A local coalition of education, health, labor and environmental organizations kicked off the Repower Our Schools effort today to transition North Carolina’s public school districts to 100% renewable energy. The groups, including the Charlotte branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA), Action NC, Greenpeace and over 15 others, are urging Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Durham Public Schools to pass resolutions to save critical school funding by transforming their operations to 100 percent renewable energy.
Over the last several years, solar energy has become drastically cheaper, allowing schools across the country to save money and invest more in facilities, teachers and school resources. A 2014 report from The Solar Foundation indicated that school districts across the country could each save more than $1 million over 30 years by installing a solar system.
“As utility rates continue to rise across North Carolina, solar continues to get cheaper — providing an affordable alternative for the school districts,” said Greenpeace Charlotte Field Organizer Michael Zytkow. “Repowering our schools stands to save money that can be reinvested in the classroom. By making this commitment, school boards are committing not only to save precious funds, but also to protect our kids’ health, help save our environment, and provide real-world learning experiences for students.”
At school, teachers could incorporate solar into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum, allowing kids to witness its advantages firsthand, while preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. The solar industry continues to grow rapidly in the United States. There are now twice as many solar jobs as coal mining jobs throughout the country.
“The Repower Our Schools campaign is important to me because the money we could save on electricity by switching to solar power would go right back to our students – where it belongs. Additionally, this provides a great opportunity to teach our students about the science behind energy production, the pollution caused by coal-burning power plants, including ash spills, and that they have the power to alter the course of our energy economy to a more sustainable future,” said Durham Public Schools Teacher Dov Rosenberg.
While the environmental benefits of solar are apparent, the health benefits are often overlooked. More than 50,000 students across the state suffer from asthma, making it the leading cause of missed school for children with chronic diseases. Solar reduces air and water pollution by reducing the amount of coal burnt in North Carolina.
“The burning of fossil fuels contributes to air pollution in our state, producing toxins that increase the incidence and severity of asthma and other lung diseases in children,” said Medical Advocates for Healthy Air Manager Terry Lansdell. “A transition to renewable energy will directly impact each student’s health. Powering our schools with solar will help lower health related absences, reduce the burden of on-site health care professionals, and allow for a healthy outdoor environment that promotes pollution-free physical activity before, during, and after school hours.”
The Repower Our Schools coalition has launched a website, www.repowerourschools.com, and encourages parents, teachers and community members to log on and support the initiative for 100% renewable energy. The coalition is calling for the school boards to pass a resolution committing to run their schools on renewable energy this year.
“As a mom who is concerned about the health of my child and her future, I am thrilled about this opportunity for schools to go solar and cut down on the pollution that is damaging our region’s air,” said Moms Clean Air Force Organizer Danielle Hilton. “I hope the school boards pass resolutions to help make this happen as soon as possible.”
In Charlotte on Thursday, January 29th, the coalition will hold an interactive panel discussion, “Renewable Energy and Education,” from 6-8pm in the Shalom Hall of Myers Park Baptist Church. Representatives from MAHA, Moms Clean Air Force, Greenpeace, Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators, and ACE will be present and available for comment.
Additionally, in Durham on January 29th, a community discussion featuring Transition Durham’s collaboration with the Repowering Our Schools campaign will be held at Pomodoro’s Kitchen from 6:30-7pm. Caroline Hansley, a Greenpeace organizer, will give a short presentation at the beginning of the discussion on the effort to Repower Durham Schools. Hansley and Betsy Crites of Transition Durham will be available for comment.
For additional information, to view the list of coalition members, or to support the initiative, please visit www.repowerourschools.com.
For coalition member interview requests, please contact: Perry Wheeler, [email protected], P: 202-319-2461