ENC school system adds solar panels saving thousands in energy each year

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – One school system in Eastern Carolina is adding solar panels to two of its schools, which the district says will help save thousands in energy costs each year.

D.H. Conley High School and Lake Forest Elementary will now run partially off energy from solar panels, saving them around $2,200 per year, according to the school district.

“I think this is an awesome time, and I think, hopefully, that this will be an opportunity for more schools to be a part of this,” said Antia Mills, a Pitt County Schools employee.

Both the installation and equipment were fully paid for by grants from the nonprofit NC Green Power Solar+.

“It’s definitely more cost-efficient because we didn’t have to pay to put them up. So the fact it just saves me money off the top it saves Pitt County schools just dollars,” said Ethan Lenker, Pitt County Schools Superintendent.

These new installations are 20-kilowatt solar panels. WITN was also told that the location where the panels were installed provides almost direct sunlight throughout the day, adding to the amount of energy they generate.

“Just looking at how you see all of the solar fields out in different areas in the counties now just in the rural areas. So, I think it’s wonderful that this is gonna be a very good start for our future and to help our kids in STEM program,” said Mills.

Not only do they help the school system save money, but Lenker says they also add educational value.

“There’s also an instructional aspect too. The kids will be able to learn about solar arrays and solar panels. What does that actually and how does it work? So we can make solar energy relevant to our students,” said Lenker.

The panels should also last 5 years, and minimal maintenance is required throughout the year.

Pitt County now has three solar panels in the schools. J. H. Rose added solar panels in 2020, but they don’t provide the amount of energy the new ones do. The school system also plans to add them to two more schools next school year, saving upwards of $10,000 per year on energy.