Friday, June 2, 2023

Solar Project Helps Students Envision Future Of Energy

Sign up here for our free newsletter that tells you about the newest stories, three mornings each week.

Sponsored by

GLOUCESTER – After Kathy Autrey attended a Dominion Energy workshop on wind energy, she learned the company was accepting applications for its Solar for Students program. It caught her interest.

“I loved the idea of students learning about renewable energy and the impact that could have on their lives,” said Autrey, a first-grade teacher at Abingdon Elementary School in Gloucester.

So, with much support and assistance, she submitted an application in March 2022. Three months later, Abingdon was chosen to be part of the program, which offers students the opportunity to learn firsthand about solar energy. The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project is the administrator of the program and works with Dominion Energy to install solar panels at each school, provide technical support, and prepare educational materials for students and teachers. A “solarbration” was held March 21 with representatives from Dominion Energy and Gloucester County Public Schools, including faculty, staff, and students from Abingdon, on hand.

“These are events that are really fun for me to go to,” said Tim Eberly, a Dominion Energy representative. “If the solarbration events are any indication, the kids really love the program.”

The educational aspects don’t end with the installation of the solar panels. Dominion Energy provides educational materials and curriculum, including hands-on activities, along with training for teachers to run the program at each school. The solar panels are connected to visual displays inside the school to show, in real time, how much power is being generated. Apps for phones also are available.

Eberly said those displays feature concepts that are easy to understand; for example showing the solar panels generated enough energy to power a TV set for three hours.

“It gives you these cool conversions that kids can wrap their head around, and it’s not talking in language that they don’t understand, like megawatts,” he said.

Autrey said students are excited to track the data each day.

At some of the solarbrations, the kids will speak.

“They like to talk about how it kind of blows their mind (that) energy from the sun can create electricity,” Eberly said.

The program started in 2013 with four schools. A handful of schools are added each year, with the total now at more than 40 schools, one nonprofit educational organization, and one museum.

“We’re basically wanting to teach students K through 12 about how solar energy is generated, to teach them about solar power,” Eberly said. “At Dominion, we’re really focused on moving in the direction of renewable energy and clean energy. This is kind of one branch from that. So that was sort of the impetus for it.”

Want to read the rest of the article?

Already a subscriber? Log into your Transact account.

New user? Create a Transact account and read the article for free. Transact gives you $3 in credit to get you started.

Purchase a subscription for a year, month, or day on Transact, and get access to all articles.

Transact payments script could not be loaded respects your privacy, does not display advertisements, and does not sell your data.

To enable payment or login you will need to allow third party scripts from

Cookies are disabled respects your privacy, does not display advertisements, and does not sell your data.

To enable purchase or subscriptions you will need to enable cookies.

You must purchase this article or be a subscriber to comment on it.

Latest News

Peninsula Businesses Holding Celebrations For Pride Month

Pride Month has arrived. Celebrated by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more (LGBTQIA+) community, along with allies, the...

Hampton City Council Updates Food Truck Ordinances And Codes

HAMPTON—Hampton City Council heard a presentation about updating food truck ordinances and codes on Wednesday, May 24 during its legislative session with the intent...

The New Local News Model

On July 1, we started a new way to pay for news. Yes, we want you to subscribe, but we know nobody subscribes to every site they visit just because there's a paywall.

So if you don't want to subscribe (even at the low price of $39.99 for a year), you can pay for access to individual articles. Or just buy a 24-hour pass, as if you were buying a single copy of a newspaper. We use a new payment service called Transact, which lets you pay for individual articles in as little as three seconds. And you will get $3 in credit when you sign up (just an email address, no credit card required), which will let you pay for at least 20 articles.

This is new for everyone, so we're going to ease you into this. Initially, there won't be many articles that you have to pay for. Short ones will always be free. And even the longer stories will let you read the first half or so for free. We'd love to hear what you think, so send us a note at