For decades, one of the world’s premier burn centers has been the philanthropic focal point for North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, which have raised about $2 million for the facility.

There was the initial $40,000 donation in 1972 that helped create the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill, followed by a co-op-sponsored golf tournament begun in 1998 that raises more than $100,000 each year.

And thousands more are on the way, thanks to the latest endeavor: proceeds from sales of a new specialty license plate that will benefit the center and honor North Carolina lineworkers.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recently signed into law legislation authorizing the “Keeping the Lights On” license plate. North Carolina co-ops, with support from Duke Energy and ElectriCities, an association representing municipal systems in the Carolinas and Virginia, staged a multiyear organizing effort that involved approval from the North Carolina General Assembly.

“Our lineworkers and other utility employees work day in and day out, at times in treacherous conditions, to provide an essential service to the people of North Carolina,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president and chief operating officer of association services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.

“These workers undertake heroic efforts to restore power as quickly as possible to our communities, often traveling across the state and nation to assist other crews in times of need,” she said.

“Despite industry-leading safety practices and precautions, our lineworkers face burn dangers on the job every day, and it’s especially fitting that this plate will contribute to such an outstanding facility in their honor,” said Dale Lambert, CEO of Asheboro-based Randolph EMC and an advisory board member of the burn center.

Available from the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles, plates cost $30 each, with $20 from each sale benefiting the center. The plate’s designer is Erin Binkley with Carolina Country, the magazine of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives.

Co-ops collected 800 completed applications for the plates—300 more than the state’s minimum required to move forward on specialty plates. About $16,000 in proceeds will go to the center.

“This was a real team effort among our member co-ops,” said Paul Mott, grassroots specialist at North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “We’re pleased we can honor our state’s lineworkers while also benefiting such an important cause.”