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Commissioners Unanimously Approve Ambitious Solar Project

Citing long-term cost savings and an investment in renewable energy, the Board of Commissioners approved a $10.1 million solar project during its meeting on July 21. This collaborative effort includes putting a total of 47 solar installations on County facilities as well as buildings at A-B Tech, Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, and the City of Asheville. (The City is paying for its own projects, but is part of the overall bid.)

“This is something that has been in the works for awhile and is exciting for a number of reasons,” stated Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “We‘ve set ambitious goals in terms of putting solar on our own facilities, and this is our first significant project… and I think it’s all the more exciting our education partners have come in with us.” The County’s strategic plan includes environmental and energy stewardship as a main focus area and is committed to its facilities using 100% renewable energy in the next ten years.

This County is investing $12.5 million, but that cost could be reduced to $10.1 million by leveraging rebates available from Duke Energy. The initiative is estimated to save the County more than $27 million in utility costs over the next 30 years while having an annual carbon offset equivalent to electricity for 1,125 homes for one year.

The winning bid for the project is Buncombe County-based company MB Haynes Corporation, and Commissioners expressed excitement the investment is going to a local business. Construction on the various projects could begin as soon as September 2020, with completion of all installations taking upward of two years.

“This lays a foundation for exciting opportunities in the future. The challenge I would leave when looking at the need to move to renewable energy… we aren’t moving fast enough,” cautioned Newman. “Time is not on our side, and this is the first of many projects.”

You can read a presentation on this initiative here.