News Release from Wendy Jacobs, Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair
34 seek to slash school expenses & greenhouse gas emissions – as Duke is doing in other states
Durham – Local elected officials today called on Duke Energy’s CEO to work with them to install solar power matched with energy storage at North Carolina schools. Two divisions of Duke Energy are providing such solar+storage systems to schools in other states at no upfront cost and with millions in savings.
“We are urging Duke CEO Lynn Good to provide those same benefits in the corporation’s home state,” announced Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs. “It’s what we all must do for our schools and to help slow climate change.”
An initial group of 34 leaders of local governments and school systems say they will recruit colleagues across the state to endorse the request that was outlined in an open letter sent today to the CEO.
“We’re calling this the NC Solar Schools Initiative, and we think the idea is a no-brainer,” says Orange County Commissioner Mark Marcoplos. “It would earn a profit for Duke Energy, save the school systems money, and be cheaper and more beneficial to the people of North Carolina than building new fossil-fuel power plants.”
Fifteen cities and seven counties in North Carolina have made commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and boost the use of clean energy, including Chatham County.
Chatham County Commissioner Diana Hales said today: “We need Duke Energy’s help meeting our clean energy targets, and we are eager to work in partnership with the company. Bringing low-cost, clean power to the state’s schools is clearly something that can and must be done.”
Rapid advances in battery technologies allow renewable power to be stored for use when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. That trend is predicted to accelerate according to industry experts such as the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Outgoing Apex Town Councilman Bill Jensen said, “It’s time for North Carolina and Duke Energy to follow the lead of other states that are taking advantage of the rapidly falling costs of renewables and storage and are choosing those technologies over building new gas-fired power plants.”
One solar+storage system installed by Duke subsidiaries in California will earn a profit for the corporation while saving the school $2.2 million over 25 years.
Durham County Commissioner Heidi Carter said: “Savings like that would free up valuable resources that are desperately needed in the classroom, especially at under-resourced schools, not to mention providing power during outages for schools in Down East communities that have been particularly hard-hit by recent storms.”
The group asked to meet in February with leadership of Duke Energy’s renewables efforts. Clean energy nonprofit NC WARN is providing technical assistance to the local leaders.