In today’s modern world, hardly a moment can go by without hearing, seeing or reading about renewable energy and green technology. From huge retail suppliers to the tiniest of general stores, it seems everyone has jumped onto the bandwagon to become environmentally friendly.
Included in this large array of environmentally friendly initiatives is a small and quiet school, snuggled gently into the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Martins Creek Elementary/Middle School is a small rural school with just over 250 students that serves pre-k through 8th grade students with education, including energy conservation.
Thanks in part to an effort of the local electric cooperative of Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Cherokee County Schools, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and an 8th grader named D.J. Mock, funds where secured and plans were made for installing a large solar array that included 4,300 solar panels and produce over 100,000 kilowatt-hours per month.
Although the school already began reducing power consumption rates by up to 30%, there was simply no more room to squeeze out energy-efficiency. As luck would have it, at the time Cherokee County decided to cut back on power consumption, the TVA was offering an incentive to anyone who could produce a green energy system that could produce one mega-watt of power. The people who could do that would receive royalties at the same rate as local commercial power production facilities, plus twelve cents an hour per local usage rates. A very attractive proposal for the right organization was soon set in place.
And that company came. All the way from Florida in fact. Solar Energy Initiatives Inc. took the trip to Murphy, N.C. with the right stuff in hand. Their proposal fit the project perfectly, and what’s more, they also had a surprise to offer the small rural school. Solar Energy Initiatives would foot the $5 million installation costs and pay a portion of the TVA incentive, generating tens of thousands of dollars for the school each year. It was a win-win situation.
But who really won in this arrangement were the children and the community of this pristine area. Learning opportunities abound at the schools five-acre solar array, with constant interaction taking place between the people, ideas and equipment that run this 999-kilowatt solar array.
From local job opportunities to extra school funding to environmentally sustainable power supply; however you look at it, this project has made a difference in the lives of local people as well as the rest of us who live on this planet.