“I have found out that Duke has a cutoff date of May 31 for each year, and then they pocket my excess energy.”
“I would not build a new home without solar panels!”
Both Buncombe County and the city of Asheville have resolved that, by the end of 2030, government operations will be powered entirely by renewable energy. With less than eight years until that deadline, what progress has been made toward the energy goals?
“But Duke Energy has filed a proposal with the N.C. Utilities Commission that would eliminate the financial benefits of these systems and destroy several thousand good jobs.”
At its Oct. 19 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners also will consider spending $394,000 to support conservation easements on eight farms throughout the county.
Six years in the making, a 300 kilowatt-hour solar array at Asheville’s Isaac Dickson Elementary School was officially dedicated Sept. 24. The $428,000 project is expected to save the school over $1.3 million in utilities costs over its 30-year operational lifespan.
According to the N.C. Climate Science Report prepared by N.C. State University’s Asheville-based N.C. Institute for Climate Studies and other experts, the area will likely experience more landslides in the coming years due to climate change.
According to a staff report available before the meeting by Jennifer Barnette, Buncombe County’s budget director, the money comes from two federal programs funneled through the N.C. State Board of Elections. The federal coronavirus rescue package accounts for about $183,000 of the funding, while the Help America Vote Act provides the remaining $172,000.
Together, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County approved over $11 million in funding to install roughly 7 megawatts of solar power at public facilities and area schools. The projects are anticipated to save the governments and local schools roughly $650,000 in electricity costs in the first year and more than $27 million over the installations’ 30-year operational life.
Mike Diethelm, president and founder of Asheville-based SolFarm Solar Co., says a $10 million construction bond requirement for would-be bidders on the solar projects “knocks out so many local medium and small solar businesses, which we have a lot of in this town, and only opens it up to the big guys.”
“The loss of life and damage caused by current global warming demonstrates that the Earth is already too hot for safety,” states the document approved by a 6-0 vote of Asheville City Council on Jan. 28. “Restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency climate mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”
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.
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.
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.
“I believe that if everyone does what they can to move toward clean energy and presses their elected officials to do the same, we can reach our goals and stop the cataclysmic disasters of climate change.”
When Boone Guyton and Claudia Cady take to the road, they are driving on energy gathered from the sun by their home solar panel system. The couple made the switch to an electric vehicle as a personal step to fight climate change.
“Call your North Carolina legislators. Urge them to pass legislation to scale up solar. They should make it easier, not harder, to cultivate the bountiful energy offered by our sun.”
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a variety of sustainability measures while continued talks about the current spending freeze on capital projects at A-B Tech was put on hold at the school’s request.
North Carolina reached a milestone this year as a national and regional leader in solar energy, but the expiration of a key state tax credit threatens to undermine that success. Solar power installations in the state surpassed a combined 1 gigawatt in capacity for the first time recently, according to a clean energy census by […]
When Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si told us to care for the earth, St. Eugene Catholic Church took up the challenge. The day before the Pope’s visit St. Eugene in north Asheville began installing 146 solar panels. When completed, this will produce 46,720 watts of power. The project was announced on Solar Sunday, March 8 and fund-raising was completed six months and a day later.