Partnership Launches Community‐Financed Solar Project for Local Schools: Solar and Batteries will Provide Emergency Power for Neah‐Kah‐Nie School District

The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, in partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Neah-Kah-Nie School District, is launching a new project to install solar and backup batteries at two Neah-Kah-Nie School District schools.
The $126,000 project will be financed in part by investment from community members. The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative has used community investment to install solar for schools, churches, nonprofits and local governments in Hood River, Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis and Central Point.

Other funding for the project will come from the Oregon Department of Energy, tax credits, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s CE – Clean Energy, Bright Futures program, which will also provide educational support.
Shares of stock in the project will be offered in the next few weeks. Investors earn a return on their investment, and get paid back with annual payments over 12 years. More information is available on the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative website.
The project will install 25 kilowatt (25,000 watts) solar and battery systems at the Nehalem Elementary School in Nehalem, and Garibaldi Grade School in Garibaldi. This pioneering project will reduce the Neah-Kah-Nie School District’s carbon footprint and electric bills, and will provide emergency power at the two schools. Both school are located out of the coastal tsunami flood zone and have been designated community emergency evacuation sites.
“Neah-Kah-Nie School District is excited to be partnering on this community-financed solar project for Nehalem Elementary and Garibaldi Grade School,” says Paul Erlebach, Neah-Kah-Nie School Superintendent. “It will provide unique real-world educational opportunities for our students, as well as reduce the school district’s carbon footprint and provide essential power in case of an emergency.”
“Our communities have been leaders in terms of emergency preparedness,” says Tom Bender, a local architect who has led the effort for solar systems locally. “Neah-Kah-Nie schools have done seismic upgrades on the Nehalem and Garibaldi schools, and the solar systems will make them ready to act as emergency evacuation centers in all sorts of emergencies.”
“This project shows how a community coming together to invest in a local project can make a difference,” says Dan Orzech, General Manager of the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative. “None of the groups involved could afford to pay for the project on their own, but working together, we’re able to make it happen.”

The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative is the only statewide cooperative in the U.S. dedicated solely to community-owned renewable energy. Our member-financed projects keep capital circulating locally, create green jobs, and enable Oregon communities to become more self-reliant through locally-generated clean power. The Co-op focuses on schools, churches, nonprofits and local governments as well as businesses, and has successfully created multiple public-private partnerships to leverage tax credits for renewable energy.

Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s CE – Clean Energy, Bring Futures
CE is a national clean energy, career connected education program from Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Together with schools, educators and industry, we strive to build clean energy future to ensure that our communities and the environment are thriving and resilient. We work to expand access to opportunities for all students regardless of their geography, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. CE is funded by corporations, regional utilities, and philanthropic organizations. To date, our funders have impacted more than 150,000 students nationwide through CE programming. For more information, visit

Neah-Kah-Nie School District #56
The Neah-Kah-Nie School District serves 850 students on the North Oregon Coast. The school district seeks to prepare students to become productive and responsible citizens for an ever-changing world through diverse educational opportunities in partnership with the community.