Broken Ground | Season 1 | Episode 4

Riding the Solar Coaster

Solar energy is growing by leaps and bounds in the Southeast and becoming a way for schools to save money.  In this episode, we visit two Virginia schools to better understand the key role policies play in whether schools can go solar. 

Episode Transcript

Solar energy is growing by leaps and bounds in the Southeast, and becoming a way for schools to save money. In this episode, we visit two Virginia schools to better understand the key role policies play in whether schools can go solar.




By Emily Richardson-Lorente


GREG HARROW: I was that skeptic when it all started.


PETER GRETZ: When you get to that point where it really does look too good to be true there are those of us who have jumped on the other side and realized it really is that good.


JOHN KOONTZ: Wait, you’re saying you can save $50,000 a year and demonstrate to your community and your children that you’re not part of the fossil fuel racket anymore.


LAUREN BOWEN: It really depends. I mean, we have a patchwork of solar policies across the southeast.


CHRIS OWENS: Working with this type of technology, for me as an educator has been one of the funnest things I’ve done.


ADAM WELLS: You know, there are people who will go to their grave thinking that solar and renewable energy is the enemy of coal.


DENECHIA EDWARDS: If they can see the solar panels at work, if they can hear their kids talk about solar energy, I think they’re going to be more positive about change.


CLAUDINE EBEID MCELWAIN: What are they called again?


KIDS: Solar panels.




HOST: This is Broken Ground, a podcast about environmental stories in the South and the people at the heart of them. I’m Claudine Ebeid McElwain. In our last episode we traveled to Buckingham County, Virginia to meet an elderly couple fighting to protect their farm and community from a natural gas pipeline.


JOHN LAURY: How many tons of poison do we have to breathe?


RUBY LAURY: I’m so upset with people that they don’t want to fight. They just want to roll over and die. But that’s not going to happen. As long as I have breath in my body, I’m going to keep fighting.


HOST: John and Ruby Laury and many others continue to wage a legal battle against developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. If you missed that episode we hope you’ll go back and listen.




HOST: In this episode, we turn to solar power in the south. With lots of land and so much sun, solar energy makes perfect sense here. But the place it makes the most sense? Schools. Think about it. Big roofs. Sometimes lots of land. Hefty electric bills that are easy to predict. And a whole building full of kids who’ll be growing up in a world increasingly reliant on renewable energy.

Here in Virginia, the amount of solar on schools has more than tripled since 2017. And it’s not nearly done growing. According to estimates from Generation 180, a clean energy non-profit, projects that are already approved and underway will increase the amount of solar on schools nearly another SIX-FOLD. But that doesn’t mean it always comes easy, In this episode we’re going to tell you a story about solar on schools, as it’s playing out in two very different parts of Virginia. One school is already reaping the benefits of solar, and the other is just hoping to have the same opportunity.

First we head to the far eastern side of Virginia near the Chesapeake Bay. Around here we call it the Northern Neck. The school district here has just 3 schools, 1,200 students total. It’s small enough that when we had to stop an interview to wait for a loud truck to pass by, the guys we were talking to inside knew exactly who was driving it.


GUYS: “That’s Tyler …no mufflers.” (laughter)


HOST: But as small as it is, Middlesex County is also a trailblazer when it comes to solar energy.


(Sounds of kids playing)


HOST: Behind its sprawling elementary school, just beyond the swing sets and monkey bars, are two massive solar arrays. Rows and rows of solar panels surrounded by chain link fence. It’s three and a half acres all together, provide 100% of the power needed to run both the elementary and middle school.


(Sound of opening gate)


CLAUDINE: Thank you.


GREG HARROW: Today it’s produced 184.1 kilowatt hours.


HOST: Greg Harrow, the director of operations has been working in the school system here for 21 years.


GREG HARROW: The sun right now is shining as bright as it ever will, it’s at peak performance right now.


CLAUDINE: How many panels are there here?


GREG: I don’t know. I’d have to count them. (laughing)


HOST: Greg may not know the exact number of panels off the top of his head, but he knows a lot about these arrays. In fact, in the 10 months since the solar panels were installed, he’s given more than a dozen tours to school board members and administrators from other school systems. All of whom are considering solar, but aren’t quite yet sold on the idea.


GREG: I like to take people out there and brag about it because I was that skeptic when it all started.


HOST: Originally, Greg says he thought this land could be used some other way. Maybe more athletic fields. He also was leery of making more work for his small facilities team. And, he says, he kind of liked things the way they were.


GREG: I was born here, raised here, have grown up here. I’m not big on change. However, being a part of the school system and recognizing the savings that we were going to get, you know, that affects my tax dollars at the end of the day, just like it does all the rest of the constituents. So, it’s been awesome.


CLAUDINE: Ten years ago, if somebody had come with this idea of putting solar panels at the school, what would you have said?


GREG: Ten years ago I’d have told them they lost their mind.


HOST: Obviously, Greg has come around since then. And, it turns out his tours are helping other people come around to solar as well.


GREG: They all think that it’s the greatest thing since peanut butter when they leave there.


JOHN KOONTZ: It’s no accident that, that many communities are coming out and checking this out.


HOST: That second voice is district supervisor and parent John Koontz. He’s got 3 kids in the school district and first ran for local office here in 2017 because he was really upset about big cuts to the schools’ budget at the time.


JOHN: We don’t have — as small rural counties — lots of money in our coffers. We don’t have a tax base that really has more money to pay taxes. Um, they’re reluctant to, to do these things. So when there’s an opportunity for a school administration to say, I found money and I’m doing right by the environment and it’s in a location where it can be very visible to our children. I mean, you can see the playground is right here. These kids know what solar power looks like in action.




CLAUDINE: Hi. How are you?


CHILD: Good.


CHILD: We’re talking about solar panels.


CHILD: She’s recording us.


CHILD: Oh, okay.


CLAUDINE: What do you guys have to say about solar panels?


CHILD: They give electricity to the school.


CHILD: The sun shines on them and they have a little cord behind them that the

energy runs through.


CHILD: I think that it’s pretty cool and it could help save, like, lots of electrical energy for other things.


CHILD: Get solar panels so then you can save your money!


CHILD: Yup! Save your electricity bill, people.


HOST: As positive as the experience has been for Middlesex, getting solar here wasn’t a foregone conclusion. When Peter Gretz joined Middlesex as School Superintendent three years ago, the county had been thinking about the possibility of solar but hadn’t yet made a decision.


PETER GRETZ: We would go (laughing) … I feel like about every month we would go through the process of looking at all this. We’d look at it on paper. We would all just kind of say, gosh, this really looks like a win-win, there must be something we’re missing. There’s gotta — you know, let’s look again. You know, we did that several times.


HOST: But as they continued to do their research — even touring schools in Charlottesville a couple of hours away to see the panels they had installed — it became clear that solar was already working for quite a few schools.


PETER: And we got to the point where we realized this would really be a benefit to us — financial benefit. The benefit to exposing our students to a quickly emerging economy and an emerging career trend, as well as the educational opportunities. It really just became a no-brainer.


HOST: Though the panels haven’t been up for a full 12 months yet, Peter estimates they will save $50,000 the first year alone.


PETER: $50,000 is roughly the cost of a position. It’s the cost of a guidance counselor. It’s the cost of an instructional technology resource teacher — positions that small rural divisions are scrambling to try to fund.


CLAUDINE: Can you tell me how you’re paying for the solar?


PETER: Well, in a nutshell, we aren’t.


HOST: That sounds like a good deal to me! Let’s talk about how they were able to do that. There are two important factors at play here. Something called a Power Purchase Agreement and something called net metering. First, Power Purchase Agreements, or PPAs. They’re pretty much the standard deal. Like nearly 90% of the schools that have gone solar in the last few years, Middlesex was able to negotiate a PPA with their solar installer, which meant the school paid zero dollars upfront.


PETER: This frankly I think is the biggest hurdle for most people is understanding how something like this can come to be with no financial obligation on the part of the school division or the county. That just doesn’t make sense.


HOST: Here’s how a PPA does make sense. The solar installer — in this case, a company named Sun Tribe — pays all the costs to install the panels, and it continues to own and maintain them.


PETER: They get the energy and they sell it to us at an agreed upon rate. In our case, it’s 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour. We pay that rate for all energy for those two buildings for the next 25 years.


HOST: He’s talking pennies but those pennies add up for the installer, which is how it makes money on the deal. On the flip side, Middlesex IS paying for energy that would be free if they outright owned the solar panels – but, their bill still ends up being much lower than if they were buying it from the utility in the conventional way. So much cheaper in fact, that over 25 years they expect to save $2.5 million dollars, as the price of electricity rises and their solar rate remains the same.


CLAUDINE: If the power purchase agreement hadn’t existed, how would you have paid for the solar?


PETER: We wouldn’t have been able to.


HOST: The other policy I mentioned earlier that helped Middlesex in its decision to go solar is “net metering.”


LAUREN BOWEN: It’s an absolutely critical policy.


HOST: That’s Lauren Bowen. She heads the Solar Power Initiative here at the Southern Environmental Law Center.


CLAUDINE: Can you tell me how net metering can be important for schools?


LAUREN: Yes. One of the great things about solar on schools is that they are needing electricity during the day when the sun is shining. But of course there may be times, the weekends or otherwise, when they are producing excess electricity that they don’t need at that very moment on site. They can then get a credit back on their electricity bill for other hours in the day or the month.


HOST: Like the majority of solar users, Middlesex will still have to buy some electricity from the local utility provider Dominion Energy on days when the solar panels aren’t producing enough energy, but they can pay for that electricity with the power the panels will be generating when school’s out for summer. Without net metering, the utility would just suck up all that excess solar power, sell it at a profit to a different customer, and the school wouldn’t reap any extra benefit from its own power generation AND it would still have to pay a big electric bill. So it would seem fair that utilities give schools credit for the power they produce, right?


LAUREN: It really depends. I mean, we have a patchwork of solar policies across the southeast and some utilities offer net metering and some don’t.


HOST: And it’s not just the availability of net metering that varies from utility to utility and state to state, but also the solar financing options, the fees, the credits, the rebates. All of which can change at almost any time.


LAUREN: We call it the solar coaster of …


CLAUDINE: Wait — did you say “solar coaster?”


LAUREN: Yeah, the solar coaster.


LAUREN: In part that refers to just the ups and downs of having so many different electricity and solar policies and policies changing from year to year. Even if you get your hands on the policy itself for your utility territory, it may not be understandable to you. It’s complicated.


HOST: In an attempt to simplify all of this information, the solar team at SELC actually spent over a year researching the solar policies of EVERY SINGLE power utility in the southeast — more than 400 of them. From that information, they built a website called Rates of Solar dot com. So, if you want to go solar, it will tell you …


LAUREN: Can you do it? And what’s the policy? And is there a penalty for doing that? Does your utility impose a penalty for doing so?


CLAUDINE: So can we play like a little game with the states in our region?


LAUREN: Oh gosh. Sure.


CLAUDINE: Can we play a like, um, good, bad, worst?


LAUREN: Good, bad, ugly. Okay.


CLAUDINE: Virginia?


LAUREN: Decent.


CLAUDINE: Tennessee?


LAUREN: Tennessee. Hmm. Bad. Not Great.


CLAUDINE: North Carolina?


LAUREN: Pretty good.


CLAUDINE: South Carolina?


LAUREN: Good. And getting better.


CLAUDINE: Georgia?


LAUREN: Really good on utility scale or large scale solar. Not great on rooftop.


CLAUDINE: Alabama?


LAUREN: Not good.


CLAUDINE: The worst?


LAUREN: THE worst. Yeah.


HOST: Alabama earns that title thanks to one utility, Alabama Power, that actually charges one of the highest monthly fees in the nation for residential solar users. This broad spectrum of solar policies certainly impacts schools. According to Generation 180, the southeast had about 200 schools with some form of solar in 2017. That number may not sound too bad, but lots of other less sunny places are far outshining us. Take balmy New Jersey, for instance. As of 2017, they had 487 schools with solar. More than double the number in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia COMBINED. It speaks to the obstacles that schools here can face when it comes to installing solar. Obstacles like the ones the next school is trying to overcome.

From Middlesex, we head deep into coal country,  seven hours west, to Dickenson County, Virginia. The only county in the state without a four-lane highway. It’s tucked so deep into Virginia’s far southwestern corner that the folks who live here are actually closer to the capitals of SEVEN other states than they are to their own capital in Richmond.


CLAUDINE: Beautiful day up in coal country.


HOST: We’re on our way  to Ridgeview High School, where a few of the kids are already experimenting with solar, but the adults are struggling to expand it beyond the demonstration stage.


CLAUDINE: This is a beautiful school!


DENECHIA: Thank you.


HOST: Ridgeview is a big state-of-the-art school and sits at the top of a windy mountain road. When we visited in the morning, you could see the clouds nestled in the tree tops below.


DENECHIA EDWARDS: I mean, look around. It’s a perfect location for solar.


HOST: That’s Denechia Edwards, a supervisor here.


DENECHIA: We have a perfect building sitting on top of a mountain. There are no obstructions, there are no high rise buildings, so it’s not interfering with the solar production.


HOST: Denechia gave my producer and me a tour of the 3-story school. Technically, it’s a combo high school, middle school, and career tech center. It looks like a school from a much wealthier district, but it was paid for largely by the Army Corp of Engineers, not the county, because several of the original schools were in flood plains that were repeatedly under water.


DENECHIA: And then we have a beautiful library.


CLAUDINE: Oh my gosh, look at the windows in here.


DENECHIA: This is my favorite room in the building …


HOST: Now, the new school is flooded with natural light. It actually has two libraries, fully outfitted science labs, dedicated spaces for culinary arts and cosmetology and computer science, a gym with an indoor walking track. So much cool stuff.


DENECHIA: This is our drafting classroom. We have several 3D printers. We’re using drones, drone technology, mapping. They’re, they’re doing all kinds of great things in here.


CLAUDINE: And I imagine a school this big has probably got quite an electric bill.


DENECHIA: Yes, yes.


HOST: Turns out that the annual electric bill for just the high school portion of this facility runs about $115,000. Which is a big bill to pay for any school — especially one where nearly 60% of the students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.


DENECHIA: We’ve actually had substantial cuts in Dickenson county for the past six years. And we’ve had to make some drastic decisions and we’ve lost programs, we’ve lost teachers, we’ve lost staff because we’ve had cuts.


HOST: That’s a big reason why Ridgeview High School is trying to get solar installed on its roof. The 700 kw array they’re hoping to finance is significantly smaller than the arrays we told you about at Middlesex, but it would still shave $10,000 a year from the school’s electric bill.

DENECHIA: $10,000 for us would be huge.


CLAUDINE: Can you give me an example of what $10,000 could fund at a high school like this?


DENECHIA: The upkeep for Chromebooks, our smart boards, the bulbs, instructional materials for our teachers. You know, just so many things that a school division needs in everyday operation, we could use that money to replace those things and to build upon what we already have.


HOST: But for Denechia, there’s a lot more to solar than just the savings. She was born here in Dickenson County, raised her kids here, and has witnessed the decline of coal.


DENECHIA: My Dad was a coal miner. My grandfather was a coal miner. Coal has sustained this community for many years, but I think it’s important for us to think about our students. They have the exposure to coal from their family, from the relatives, but as they move outside of the area, they’re going to be exposed to renewable energy. That’s the next wave. And if we don’t teach our kids and expose them to that, they’re going to be left behind.


CLAUDINE: Do you think a lot of the kids will leave Dickenson County?


DENECHIA: I’m afraid so… our good kids, our really good kids, our strong academic kids they often go away to college and when they do, they don’t come back to the area. And it’s because they don’t have jobs in their fields.


GUYS CHATTING: What’s up gentlemen? Here comes the new dad.


HOST: One kid who did come back is Chris Owens. He graduated from the old Haysi High School here, paid his way through college working for United Coal Company, then left to fight fires for the U.S. Forest Service. He’s been back here teaching for 10 years now … and he’s a brand new dad.


GUYS CHATTING: How’s the sleep going? I got some last night.


CHRIS OWENS: I traveled all over the country, fought fires everywhere, and I moved back here. So I like this part of the world. I like the mountains. I like the privacy, and I certainly hope my daughter will have the opportunity to stay here if she wanted to.


HOST: In addition to teaching chemistry, Chris teaches a sustainable and renewable energy course, and he coaches the robotics team. It was here in their cavernous robotics lab, where the school put their first solar panel to work.


CHRIS: This is our lab, of course you can tell because it’s a big mess.


HOST: When Chris learned that Appalachian Voices, a non-profit environmental organization working locally, was offering a $500 solar grant for local schools, he encouraged his robotics team to apply. The kids got together and wrote a proposal for a solar-powered robot. Raegan Lamkin is the team captain.


RAEGAN: Most of the team was really interested in solar energy and like renewable energy. And it’s something like the robotics team gives us a lot of opportunities to experiment and venture out to things we’re really curious about.


HOST: The team won the grant, bought two solar panels, and figured out how to power their robot with them.


CHRIS: It’s a mobile solar panel charging station, I guess. I don’t know what you call it.


CLAUDINE: And that’s the first one you guys received.


CHRIS: That’s our first one, that’s the first ones we bought.


HOST: Since then, the team has taken their robot on the road, participating in regional competitions, WINNING a state contest and even going on to the World Competition in Detroit.


RAEGAN: It was really interesting because you would walk up to somebody not really knowing who they are, where they’re from, and they can just like — someone just spoke back to me in Russian. A lot of people commented on our accent, which I thought was weird. But yeah.


CHRIS: But those kids, you know, we go out and compete with people who have a lot of money, like, and have a lot of resources that we don’t have, but that’s all right. Our kids are good.


HOST: Really good.


ANNOUNCER FROM COMPETITION: Okay, introducing the robots on the field for match 10.


HOST: At this year’s World competition, the team placed 8th in their division, a real accomplishment for a team that sometimes has to salvage parts from old VCRs and other equipment.


ANNOUNCER FROM COMPETITION: The Squatch Watch from Ridgeview High School.


HOST: Did you catch their team name?  “Squatch Watch”.  It’s a reference to a local legend that Sasquatch — also known as Big Foot — roams this region.


RAEGAN: And we always wear camo pants to competitions. It just shows who we are. We all — everyone has to wear camo pants.


CHRIS: It’s just fun. That’s what it’s all about. Like, like the robotics team, we got to stick out. How do you stick out among 120 …


CLAUDINE: Camo pants


CHRIS: Camo pants! You know how many other teams wear camo pants? Zero. I mean we stick out like a sore thumb, which is perfect.


HOST: Of course, back home, the camo pants blend. It’s the solar that sticks out.


CLAUDINE: Do you feel like sometimes you have to convince adults of the importance of solar?


RAEGAN: Yes, definitely. There’s still adults around here who do not believe climate change is a real thing. And that is kind of weird to say, but it’s true, and coal is very like a lifestyle kind of to people around here. It’s just emotional connection. And for me it’s not, I don’t have that emotional connection with coal. I think it’s really important to reach out and to experiment with renewable energy in schools and businesses.


HOST: The solar-powered robot was such a hit here, that Denechia Edwards and Chris Owens started looking for other opportunities to include solar in the curriculum. And so they applied for a grant from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to purchase a small solar array. Just six panels — one of them accidentally smashed — but strangely still fully functioning. All in a metal frame made by the kids in shop class, and mounted outside the school’s greenhouse, which is used by the school’s agriculture class. The solar panels power the automatic irrigation system inside.


CHRIS: All designed by …




HOST: That “me” is Nick Cox, a junior here at Ridgeview and another member of the robotics team.


CHRIS: Like, he designed the system and, like, he’s done all the programming. I’ll come out and help him with the wiring or whatever they need, but he’s basically done the whole thing on his own.


CLAUDINE: Who taught you how to do that, Nick?


NICK: A mix of my dad and myself really. My Dad is an electrical engineer for the coal mines — or was until he got disabled.


HOST: Nick says his dad worked in the coal mines for 15 years, and now suffers from black lung and a variety of other illnesses. But he taught his son to tinker. And together they figured out how to rig up their own solar panels at home. They’re not hooked up to the grid, mind you, but they provide enough energy to run the fridge and the family computer.


NICK: I use a bunch of golf cart batteries. They’re all hooked up in a variety of series in parallel to achieve 24 volts.


CLAUDINE: So you think you’ll apply some of this knowledge that you’ve learned in using solar panels for work that you’ll do later?


NICK: Oh yeah. All this stuff applies.


HOST: Frankly, I was blown away by the kids I met at Ridgeview and not just because they’re so smart, which they are, but because they are so resourceful. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that they want in on learning about any future solar installations on the school. Raegan Lamkin — who wants a career in STEM — loves that idea.


RAEGAN LAMKIN: I’m really excited! I’m a tree hugger. I love the idea of renewable energy and wind energy and solar energy. I think it’s important. And I would love to say like 15 years from now, hey, you know Ridgeview High School? I participated in those solar panels. I would love to do that.


CLAUDINE: Where do you see yourself after high school? Do you think you’ll stay here?


RAEGAN: I don’t think I will stay here. Um, I think I would like to stay here, but I’m not sure by the time I graduate and get to the place I need to be that it will be a good place for STEM.


CLAUDINE: So you think if those opportunities were here, you’d stay here?


RAEGAN: I would.


HOST: Denechia Edwards and Chris Owens have high hopes that bringing more solar to this area will eventually help attract more high-tech jobs … but for now, they’re just trying to get panels on Ridgeview’s roof. It’s been seven months since they started working with their solar installer, and still no panels. In Middlesex, it only took a month before their solar was going up. So what’s the hold up? Denechia says the financing piece is the hurdle.


DENECHIA: It’s approximately a $900,000 project. And that’s a huge undertaking for a small school division with limited funds and even for our county as a whole.


HOST: Remember that Power Purchase Agreement that made it so easy for Middlesex to get solar without paying a penny upfront? One local solar advocate, Adam Wells, says that’s just not an option here.


ADAM WELLS: The opportunities that exist in the rest of the state don’t happen here.


HOST: Adam would know. As the regional director of community and economic development at Appalachian Voices, Adam has played a big role in a solar collaborative called the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia. That’s the group that first got Ridgeview High School and a handful of other local organizations interested in rooftop solar. And it helped them vet and hire a solar installer.


ADAM WELLS: As it turns out, the developer that was selected through the competitive process has run into immense pushback from the utilities.


HOST: Ridgeview High School is served by Appalachian Power — one of the two smaller utilities that operate here in Southwest Virginia. Appalachian Power — or “APCO” — decided it would only allow PPAs for universities, not high schools. So, even though the power company here has absolutely NOTHING to do with how the solar panels are financed, it has veto power over the financial arrangement. And because none of the organizations waiting for solar here can afford to pay for their panels upfront, the solar installer is bending over backwards to try to figure out another way to provide the solar — while, of course, still making a profit, because, you know, business.


ADAM: They’re going to figure it out. But it’s taken months and months of their time and energy to figure out how to do this, when it could be really easy if the laws were different.


HOST:  One of the laws Adam is referring to relates to net metering. Remember that’s the policy that allows the Middlesex school system to sell excess solar back to Dominion and then use that as a credit to buy electricity from the grid when they need it. Without net metering, solar would save them a LOT less money. Unfortunately, the state of Virginia sets a cap here for how much electricity its investor-owned utilities can net meter: ONE percent. In Dominion’s case that 1% happens to be a lot of watts, because Dominion has a huge customer base. But APCO sells much less energy in the more sparsely populated rural areas it serves. Once APCO reaches its cap no other customers will be allowed to participate in net metering.


ADAM: Ridgeview might get in underneath it. But according to APCO’s interpretation of their net metering cap, no one else can use net metering in their territory unless the law is changed.


HOST: So this part of Virginia, deep in coal country, eager for jobs and ripe for solar, is facing a nearly insurmountable obstacle to getting it: uncooperative utilities who are protected by lousy laws. Laws they lobbied hard for, by the way. Adam says it’s pretty clear why utilities aren’t eager to encourage solar on schools or businesses here.


ADAM: What we’re supporting is distributed electric generation. From one perspective, it’s democratizing the energy grid.


HOST: ‘Democratizing the energy grid.’ That sounds good, right? It means customers — can have the freedom to choose to generate their own energy. Which, Adam says, utilities view as an ‘existential threat.’


ADAM: You know from a really real perspective, it’s the truth. If they continue to want to operate the way that they’ve been operating for the last 50 years, then yeah, distributed generation is the enemy. But that’s the kind of thinking that, like, tanks businesses, especially now in the age of disruption.


HOST: So while Ridgeview High School continues to wait and hope for their solar panels, Middlesex County continues giving tours of its own solar arrays. In fact, they’ll be adding more solar this summer — this time behind the high school, next to the athletic fields, where visiting teams will be able to see it. District Supervisor John Koontz is thrilled.


(Sounds of a football game)


JOHN KOONTZ: We’re going to reach even more come next September when people come to sit in our stands and eat our hot dogs and enjoy our solar-powered Friday night lights.




HOST: This is the final episode of the first season of Broken Ground. We’ll be back in the coming months with more stories of the southern environment and the people living here. In the meantime, if you’d leave us a review on iTunes, it would be a huge help in making sure others hear these stories. And subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to be the first to know when we’re back.

If you have story ideas or are interested in supporting the podcast in upcoming seasons, please reach us through our website at broken ground podcast dot org.


NINA EARNEST: Broken Ground is a podcast by the Southern Environmental Law Center. It’s put together by Emily-Richardson Lorente, Nina Earnest, Jennie Daley, and hosted by Claudine Ebeid McElwain. Our theme music is by Eric Knutson. Thanks for listening.