Our county commissioners will be voting on establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal for county government within 10 years, and all residents and businesses within 25 years on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
With the deadlock on climate change and attacks on the environment at both the federal and state level, we have a chance here in Buncombe County to make real progress on climate change by establishing a goal of going to 100 percent renewable energy.
The county is making great progress on reducing its energy usage and saving money. The county already has projects underway to reduce energy usage by almost 30 percent and will likely reduce its usage by at least another 10 percent over the next decade. The county commissioners have also approved a solar farm on the old landfill that will supply another 18 percent of the county’s current electrical usage. All of this has been done within the past three years.
It is now time to take the next step and establish a goal of replacing the remaining 40 percent with renewable energy by establishing a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for county government within the next 10 years and the broader community within 25 years. Setting and meeting this target will save taxpayers and ratepayers money.
Solar power is already comparable in price to other forms of energy and is projected to decrease in cost by another 60 percent over the next decade. In the meantime, the price of regular electricity continues to rise, with Duke currently requesting a 17 percent rate hike.
Buncombe County already has over 20 solar companies, and the average wage for a solar installer is over $20 per hour. Setting this goal will allow these companies to grow and hire more workers at a good salary. In addition, many companies have established goals of 100 percent renewable energy, and having renewable energy here will increase our chances of attracting new employers that will pay a living wage.
I urge our county commissioners to vote yes on establishing these 100 percent renewable energy goals.
— Ken Brame
Political Chair, WNC Sierra Club