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DURHAM SCHOOL'S SOLAR PROJECT DRAWS ATTENTION FROM POLITICOS

Can hanging out with local fourth graders inspired by solar power change the way Washington addresses the energy sector? Maybe.

Durham's Central Park School for Children recently teamed up with King Brothers Electric Co. and Carolina Solar Energy to install a solar panel unit on the school’s roof, and next is a wind turbine.

Aaron Sebens’ fourth grade class recently toured one of Carolina Solar Energy’s utility-scale solar farms. The Durham-based solar energy company, which has eight utility-scale projects in surrounding counties, draws power across 30 or more acres of panels at a time. The small business employs four people and uses contractors for installations.

“We helped (the school) figure out what permitting it needed,” says Carson Harkrader of Carolina Solar Energy. “We acted as an adviser.”

Environment North Carolina, a statewide, citizen-funded environmental group, brought N.C. Congressmen G.K. Butterfield and David Price to the school on Wednesday to see the kids' energy project, in the hopes they would take the kids’ message to Washington, D.C.

“Through this project and campaign, these young people showed us that using solar energy and finding solutions to meet our country’s energy needs is achievable when communities work together,” Butterfield says. “Renewable energy and energy diversity are critical to our future global competitiveness.”

To fund the project, the class launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised $5,800.

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