Jeremiah LeRoy, Buncombe County’s sustainability officer, shares his top five reasons from 2019 to keep up hope about the county’s sustainability work.
Judy Mattox, chair of the Western North Carolina Sierra Club Group, shared her top five highlights from a year of advocacy with Mountain Xpress.
For the first time, the Creation Care Alliance’s annual retreat, taking place at the Montreat Conference Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8, will include both clergy and lay leaders. While the first day remains focused on ordained ministers , its second day will offer “learning, grieving, inspiration and training” for all who connect their faith with creation care.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, a public hearing will take place in Room B of the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center at 340 Victoria Road in Asheville regarding Duke Energy’s plans to build a 12.5-acre landfill on its property beside Lake Julian.
Many public commenters urged the commissioners to act even more decisively on transitioning away from fossil fuels in the context of climate change. Chloe Moore with the Sunrise Movement referenced a scientific paper, published earlier that day, in which over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a “climate emergency” and warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” if stronger measures were not taken.
Buncombe County has identified over $2.9 million in solar energy projects that could be installed at government-owned facilities. The projects are estimated to generate more than $4.7 million in energy savings over their estimated 30-year operational lifespan and help the county reach its goal of powering all government operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The $100,000 report, commissioned from Massachusetts-based consultants The Cadmus Group, finds that local government action will be insufficient for Asheville and Buncombe County to run operations entirely on renewable energy by their goal date of 2030 without the purchase of renewable energy certificates or significant state-level regulatory changes.
Although nearly 100 public charging stations are currently installed within 15 kilometers (9 miles) of Asheville, many more are on the way. Governments, businesses and private individuals are all stepping up their efforts to electrify the way WNC gets around, with major pushes including Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and Duke Energy’s ET Pilot.
More than 30 bands on three stages plus classes covering everything from aquaponics to regenerative agriculture practices are on the schedule for the three-day festival.
Questions linger about the buses’ capability to keep up with their diesel and hybrid counterparts on Asheville’s demanding roads. Issues with the length and battery life of the vehicles have led city officials to delay the planned purchase of three more electric units.
“Building a Climate-Resilient Asheville,” debuted during a June 19 meeting of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment at The Collider, focuses on practical steps individuals can take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme weather.
Along with more than 150 traditional workshops and seminars, six keynote speakers and hundreds of exhibitors, this year’s fair now features hands-on and extended workshops that dig deeper into an array of topics selected by the magazine’s editorial team.
The total cost of those buses, according to a city staff report, would be approximately $1.5 million, of which Asheville would contribute $225,000 in matching funds. Some members of the public commented that the switch from battery-electric to hybrid buses represented a step backward in the city’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
“Culture is the closest to my heart,” says Fleming, who plays steel guitar, of activities at the second biennial Get Off the Grid Fest . “The best way to build the culture of a community is through music and dance, and we have an incredibly strong line-up. It’s an empowering and joyful event.”
Clere calls the effort a “natural outgrowth” from the last of the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles: “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
Taken together, the adjustments on the docket would generate nearly $1 million in new annual revenue for water operations and capital improvements. In a staff report issued before the meeting, city CFO Barbara Whitehorn estimated the total annual impact of the changes as $6.60 per household.
During a March 14 listening session at The Collider in downtown Asheville about the DEQ’s Clean Energy Plan, a key provision of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 on clean energy and climate change, many of the roughly 70 Western North Carolina residents in attendance expressed frustration that the state wasn’t doing enough.
“If you take one thing away from this rally, let it be this: You are not as small as you think you are,” said Asheville High School freshman Clay Swan-Davis. The event, part of a global strike involving over 1.4 million young activists, called for “radical legislative action to combat climate change.”
Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.
As demand for solar energy increases, members of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association worry that negative word-of-mouth about experiences with renewables could undermine trust in established installers. In August, the trade group developed a “Solar Business Code” establishing fundamental professional standards.
The new facility’s planned retirement is in 2059 — 17 years after Buncombe County government’s 2042 goal of transitioning all homes and businesses to completely renewable energy. Jason Walls, Duke Energy district manager, said his company is committed to helping local governments achieve their goals but that the new plant’s construction is based on forecasts of growing energy needs.