The SunSense® schools program helps schools in the Duke Energy service territory to manage energy costs while promoting energy education. The program:
Applications are available! To enter your school for the opportunity to receive a free PV system, see the "Apply" tab below.
See a complete list of all SunSense Schools recipients.
Free PV systems for schools
Each year Duke Energy will select up to 11 schools to receive fully installed PV systems. Selection is competitive with priority given to EHPA-designated schools; however, all public schools that are current Duke Energy customers may submit an application. Refer to the Apply tab for a list of Key Dates for 2015.
K-12 public schools
Public post-secondary schools
To be eligible to receive a PV system through the SunSense schools program, schools must:
Among K-12 schools, priority will be given to schools designated as Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area (EHPA) shelters. Based on Florida statutes, EPHA shelters are determined by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Applications will be evaluated and scores awarded using the following key categories:
Elementary through High Schools (K-12)
Post-Secondary Schools (Colleges, universities, trade schools)
Post-secondary schools will be selected based on criteria such as attendance, energy consumption on main campus and plans to use the solar array as an educational and research tool.
Energy education at schools with solar PV systems
The solar PV systems are installed at selected schools with the goal of enhancing understanding and awareness of renewable energy among students, faculty and school administration.
Hands-on learning using the included data collection systems will provide the selected schools with the opportunity to become the centerpiece of a strong focus on renewable energy and energy-efficiency that can be expanded into the community.
Energy education at K-12 schools
Schools in the Duke Energy service area that are not eligible or selected to receive solar PV systems can still benefit from the SunSense schools program. By using educational materials available through the program you’ll have access to:
Educators: If you’d like to participate in the energy education program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include information about your school and about the type of educational support that you would find most useful.
Community funding for energy education
Duke Energy residential customers can help fund energy education in their community schools by enrolling in the SunSense Schools Residential program when they sign up for our EnergyWise HomeSM program.
To learn more, visit the SunSense schools residential program Web page.
The application and school selection process will consist of four phases. The activities and 2015 deadlines* are as follows:
Application available online - Feb. 1, 2015
All candidate schools submit sections 1-6 - Mar. 31, 2015
Top candidates schools announced - Apr. 3, 2015
Top candidates submit site assessment (section 7) - Apr. 17, 2015
Finalists selected for on-site inspection - May 2015
Winning schools announced - July 2015
PV systems installed - Summer and fall 2015
* Duke Energy reserves the right to extend these deadlines if deemed necessary.
To enter your school for the opportunity to receive a free PV system, complete the application.
If you have any questions, please email us at SunSenseSchools@duke-energy.com.
Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about the SunSense schools program.
What is the deadline for schools to submit an application for the 2015 selection process?
All Phase 1 applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Mar. 31, 2015.
Are all schools eligible to receive a solar PV system?
No, only public schools that are currently customers of Duke Energy in good standing and that meet other eligibility requirements are eligible to receive a solar energy system. Priority will be given to schools designated as Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area (EHPA) shelters.
Are all Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area (EHPA) shelters eligible for the solar PV system?
No, only EHPA shelters that are public schools in Duke Energy service territory are eligible.
How are schools selected?
After the Phase 1 applications are received, a review team will score the applications based on the school's responses provided on the application. Point values associated with each response will be totaled to provide a score and ranking.
Weighted criteria for "Phase 1: Sections 1-6" include:
The schools receiving the highest scores from the Phase 1 review will be asked to complete and submit "Section 7: Site Assessment" of the application for Phase 2 review.
The Phase 2 applications will be reviewed and evaluated to select the schools with sites that best meet the criteria for solar installation.
Phase 3: The highest ranked schools from Phase 2 will receive an on-site inspection to verify the applicability of the site for the proposed installation.
Final winners will be announced after all site visits are completed.
Is there a cost involved if our school is selected, or are all of the expenses covered?
The initial system and installation is fully funded by the SunSense Schools Program. The school will assume all ongoing operations and maintenance responsibility.
Are post-secondary schools eligible to participate?
Yes, public post-secondary schools can apply to receive a solar PV system of up to 100 kW by following the application process.
Do K-12 schools select the solar installers?
No. Duke Energy will select the solar installation companies.
I heard that there was a maximum of one PV system to be installed/awarded per county. Is that true?
No. The program will attempt to provide a broad geographic distribution of the PV systems at schools with emergency shelters throughout Duke Energy's service area but there are no limits or quotas by county.
How will the PV system be installed on my school and how much space will it take up?
The PV will be ground-mounted installations. A ground-mount installation installs the photovoltaic array as a freestanding structure placed on the ground usually near a building. This type of installation requires 2000 sq-ft of unobstructed (horizon to horizon) ground space.
The battery system will also be in an outdoor enclosure, which requires some pad-mounted equipment on the ground.
Can supporting photos and attachments to the school application be transmitted electronically or do they have to be sent via postal service?
Applications, and any attachments, will only be accepted electronically using the designated email: SunSenseSchools@duke-energy.com. Be sure to put the school name in the subject line. Please do not send applications or photos via the postal service.