RCE Georgetown - 2021

The CCU Solar Ambassador Team
Basic Information
Title of project : 
The CCU Solar Ambassador Team
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Georgetown
Contributing organization(s) : 
Re-volv; Santee Electric Cooperative; CCU Solar Ambassador Team; HTC Honors College and Sustainability and Coastal Resilience Major; Dept of Politics; The Village Group; Alder Energy; Dawson Lumber; Coastal Builders
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Pamela Martin
Organizational Affiliation: 
Coastal Carolina University
Format of project: 
Power point and in person training and engagement
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Monday, September 20, 2021
Additional resources: 
Video footage here: https://youtu.be/sQ6IsYl9DIY; https://youtu.be/BmI1q47bqc0; https://youtu.be/ZZNMPLV1f_8
Solar Energy Policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
United States
Georgetown County, SC
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Kearns Hall 114F
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Plantersville is a rural town in the western portion of Georgetown County. It has a household income of $42,490 – well below the mean income of SC at $56,227. Its population of 3,000 people is nearly 80% of its population being African American and of Gullah Geechee heritage, many of whom were enslaved on local plantations historically. These plantations are now privately owned and to a large extent in conservation easements. The school in Plantersville is among the lowest performing, yet its rich Gullah heritage and biodiverse habitat along the Pee Dee River provide reminders of the wealth of this community.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
This project addresses the challenges of generational poverty (UN SDG 1) and under achievement in education for its youth (UN SDG 4) with providing clean and affordable energy (UN SDG 7) for its educational and community non-profit, The Village Group. The CCU Solar Ambassador team, partnered with Re-volv a solar seed fund in San Francisco, Alder Energy, and Santee Electric Cooperative will install a solar energy system to offset 100% of the power at The Plantersville Cultural Center.
April, 2021 to January, 2022
In the US, solar energy is incentivized by tax credit incentives. This means that private individuals and businesses who earn over a certain income can take advantage of discounts to install residential solar energy. However, nonprofits cannot take advantage of tax credits and thus, must pay more for solar energy than their private industry counterparts. Re-volv trains college students as solar ambassadors to help community-serving nonprofits install solar energy through a solar seed fund that pays up front for the cost and guarantees a minimum of 15% reduction on their energy bills. This program allows communities to have access to clean and affordable energy while educating citizens and students about it as well. Students take a Solar Ambassador class, learn about solar technology, business, and policy by engaging with installers and leaders in the industry, and share that information with their community nonprofits to improve energy costs, provide clean energy, and educate the public about the benefits of clean energy for all. Nonprofits can then be models for clean and affordable energy, and their lease payments (that are greatly reduced) over 20 years go into a revolving fund to pay for future nonprofit projects.
1. Students learn about solar energy policy locally, national, and globally
2. Students apply this learning in real world scenarios by finding nonprofits who can benefit from solar energy, bidding out the proposal, presenting it to the nonprofit boards, and representing the project in the community as a model for sustainable development education.
3. Students and community members work together toward clean energy goals.
4. The solar project is a professional development tool for students and community members to enter the clean energy field.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Students work with nonprofits to plan a solar project for their facility. Students also are trained in solar technology and installation. Students educate the community and campus about the benefits of solar energy in public meetings and festivals. Students act as a voice for improved policy locally for clean and affordable energy for all by working with energy nonprofits.
Size of academic audience: 
This project is the third solar installation for the CCU Solar Ambassadors. They have installed about 24 kw of solar energy on two Veteran of Foreign Wars nonprofit buildings and now, on the Village Group, an educational and community nonprofit. Students also worked with the City of Georgetown on a new solar ordinance to allow solar energy through their zoning regulations. The Solar Ambassador program has created student, community learning and high impact engagement toward SDG 7.
Lessons learned: 
The first project that the Solar Ambassador team attempted was at a homeless shelter. It failed because the team did not adequately educate the community on how the solar seed fund works and why clean energy is important for all. Since that experience, we now have clear explanations and data for community nonprofits. Students have learned that just because they want solar energy to be prolific, they have to understand the economic impacts and benefits, and explain them to community members, in addition to climate change benefits of clean energy.
Key messages: 
Solar Ambassadors don’t wait for a better world, they change the world through clean, solar energy one roof at a time.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This project relates to our work with the City of Georgetown on sustainable development, as well as our Youth Corps program that provides 35 internships per year in the community. Youth Corps members in environmental services in the county teamed with the Solar Ambassadors for a litter pick up in April 2021 to demonstrate that a sustainable community reduces its waste and uses clean energy. The CCU students picked up trash with The Village Group students and community members, joined by university administration and the CEO, Rob Ardis, of Santee Electric Cooperative.

The Village Group Project costs about $20,000, but they will only pay $8,000 over 20 years. It will save them $26,000 in energy costs. Much of the materials were donated, which has reduced the true cost of the solar system. Additionally, the lease payments will go into the revolving fund for future projects. Our previous two projects totaled about 22 kW of solar energy with total energy savings of nearly $50,000 for those organizations that serve veterans of the US.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon IMG_2208.jpg (4.22 MB) Solar Ambassadors and Village Group Litter Pick up Pamela L. Martin
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Curriculum Development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level