Press release from Green Built Alliance:
With more than two years of success in meeting the goals outlined for its community-focused campaign, Blue Horizons Project is excited for the next phase in its evolution and an expanded involvement in the region’s efforts to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in the next two decades.
Following a joint Request for Proposals from the city and county, the nonprofit Green Built Alliance was selected in the summer of 2020 to continue implementing the work of the Blue Horizons Project.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to continue and build upon the first two years of the Blue Horizons Project, and are looking forward to a broader scope of work and new opportunities to deepen our relationships within the community as we work together for clean energy,” Blue Horizons Project Coordinator Sophie Mullinax said. “We’re grateful for the trust the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have placed in us.”
The program’s founding entity, the Energy Innovation Task Force, held its final meeting in March 2020, with plans for it to be reborn later in the year as the Blue Horizons Project Community Council.
Applications are available now for community members interested in holding a seat on the new guiding body. Individuals interested in being considered for a seat on the Blue Horizons Project Community Council can learn more at tinyurl.com/BHPCCinfo and apply at tinyurl.com/BHPCCapp.
The council will come together to address the current climate crisis by leading the region in achieving its community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2042 through engagement and collaboration with Buncombe County, the City of Asheville and Duke Energy.
The community council will convene later this fall with a diverse nine-member panel representing the fields listed below.
Utility (local, technical, policy, program)
Government (staff, political leadership, citizen advisory board)
Public sector; leaders beyond City and County (schools, AB Tech, Airport, MSD, other municipalities)
Business (large users, mid-size users, business associates, entrepreneurs)
Large utility users (plus rooftop owners)
Nonprofit/advocacy organizations (LMI, Seniors, environmental, policy)
Renewable energy installer, industry representative
Energy-efficiency professional (energy rater, HVAC expert)
Alternative fuel transportation
After years of planning under the leadership of the Energy Innovation Task Force, Blue Horizons Project was launched in March of 2018 to make a clean-energy future a reality in Buncombe County by improving access to and engagement in the wide variety of programs and resources available to local residents and businesses.
Through a suite of strategic energy-efficiency and demand-response solutions, Blue Horizons Project has positioned itself over the past two years as a comprehensive hub of programs to empower community members to save money and reduce the area’s peak energy demand.
In one pivotal early success, Blue Horizons Project was credited with playing a key role in influencing Duke Energy’s decision to take off the table plans to build a natural gas peaker plant—one of the core concerns that prompted the formation of the Energy Innovation Task Force in early 2016.
As Green Built Alliance carries forward the clean-energy torch through this work, many of the Blue Horizons Project’s efforts will stay consistent. As it did in its first two years, Blue Horizons Project will continue providing resources for residents and businesses to reduce energy demand and consumption, as well as adopt renewable energy.
Also remaining steady is the involvement of Energy Savers Network (ESN) in completing weatherization and energy-efficiency upgrades in low-income homes. One new layer within that is a partnership between ESN, United Community Development, and two leaders in the Southside community, which will serve as subcontractors on the work in low-income homes.
“We are excited to partner with these Black-led organizations and people embedded in communities we seek to serve,” Mullinax said.