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Letter: Smart meters hold great promise

“Smart meters are a necessary step if our electricity grid is going to accommodate distributed storage (residential batteries like the Tesla power wall). They also offer endless opportunities for apps and other data-driven efficiency strategies that we haven’t dreamed of yet. There’s also a reduction in fossil fuel use when meter readers don’t have to drive to homes anymore.”

COLD COMFORT: Since 2006, electric heat pumps have replaced over 12,000 oil- or propane-fired furnaces in WNC. While the heat pumps can be highly efficient at moderate temperatures, engineers and energy industry experts say they are less so when the mercury drops below freezing. Data from the Energy Innovation Task Force and Duke Energy; graphic by Scott Southwick

Heat pumps drive rapid growth in WNC’s peak electricit­y demand

Using data provided by Duke Energy, a local task force has shown that much of the growth in WNC’s peak electrical demand is driven by the conversion of existing oil- and propane-fired heating systems to electric heat pumps. Slowing the growth in peak demand is the mission of the task force, which hopes to delay or eliminate the need for one of three new power plants proposed for Duke Energy’s Lake Julian station.

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

Oralene Graves Anderson Simmons, founder of Asheville's Martin Luther King Jr. annual prayer breakfast, accepts a proclamation from the mayor of Jan. 14-16 as Martin Luther King Jr. Days in the city. This year's prayer breakfast is sold out, said Simmons. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Council approves annexation­, hears good news about Housing Authority program

On Jan. 10., Asheville City Council approved the free downtown shuttle service offered by Slidr, a request to voluntarily annex a 4.8-acre parcel in South Asheville and an amendment to the zoning approval for the RAD Lofts housing development on Roberts Street. Council also agreed to move forward with a study of voters’ attitudes about district elections for positions on City Council.