Tennessee Valley Authority to Fund Solar Panel Project at Sycamore High School

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A vital TVA initiative is helping the Cheatham County School District (CCSD) apply data and innovative technologies to construct a solar pavilion at Sycamore High School to support the development of a solar energy Career and Technical Education program and introduce solar science to students.

The “Economic Solutions Through Solar Innovation” project is being considered for funding by TVA’s Connected Communities initiative, which uses community-driven information and the newest technology solutions to address challenges that include broadband access, environmental risk monitoring, digital literacy training and next-generation career options.

TVA is working with communities on pilot projects they value. The Cheatham County School District will share more than $3 million in grant funding from TVA in 2022 and 2023 after review. The goal of the Connected Communities initiative is to support the best services for the people and businesses who depend on them.

With this grant, the CCSD plans to construct a 50kW solar array with a Tesla Powerwall backup. The technology demonstration will allow the CCSD to save in annual energy costs, extend the operation of critical facility functions with battery storage and provide Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for students to excel in post-secondary careers.

Additionally, the CCSD has submitted a proposal to the Tennessee Department of Education for a special CTE program of study with a solar energy focus.

“We are beyond excited to receive this grant from the TVA. Our district has been researching solar possibilities since early 2020, and this project will add a new dimension in learning and teaching to our students. As a ‘hands-on’ tool, the solar panel system will not only allow students to actually see specific examples of renewable energy, but it will also give the classroom teacher a unique teaching tool that is ‘real-world’ to students. The solar display will serve as an important learning tool to stimulate interest in a growing industry of renewable energy,” said Cheatham County Director of Schools Dr. Cathy Beck.

The “Economic Solutions Through Solar Innovation” project was selected from more than 40 organizations that applied for funding during the initial call for pilots in late 2021. Each selected project supports at least one of three focus areas of the TVA Connected Communities initiative:

• Equitable Access to Services: Services through broadband, modern technology and the knowledge and empowerment to use it.

• Economic Empowerment: Economic security and the ability to contribute to a modern, 21st Century economy to the best of their ability.

• Energy & Environmental Justice: A healthy environment) and reliable, affordable and clean energy.

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