Solarize Asheville-Buncombe Reaches Its Most Affordable Pricing Level!

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe Reaches Its Most Affordable Pricing Level!

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe Reaches Its Most Affordable Pricing Level!

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe has truly taken off like no Solarize campaign before it, reaching the final pricing tier – tier 8 – in record time. This means we have made solar energy more affordable for hundreds of residents in Buncombe County!

To extend accessibility further, Solarize Asheville-Buncombe also signed our first three income-based solar grants last week. These grants will cover a large part of the cost of a solar installation for a low-income family in Buncombe County – significantly reducing energy costs for many decades, and providing greater financial security while utility costs fluctuate.

At the same time, the workforce development component of Solarize is moving forward, as Green Opportunities has completed multiple weeks of solar installation training for community members with traditional barriers to employment.

We are so grateful to all of our supporters who have signed up or donated to make Solarize such a success. If you haven’t yet, here are some ways you can participate in the campaign:

  1. You can still sign up! Register for your free home solar evaluation here to see if solar energy will be a good fit for your property.
  2. Help make solar energy attainable for even more families by donating to our Neighbor-To-Neighbor solar crowdfunding campaign. 100% of funds will help more community members in Buncombe County afford solar energy.
  3. Want to learn more about the various ways to finance solar energy? Mark your calendar for Solarize Asheville-Buncombe’s financing workshop on May 26 from 6-7 pm, and register here.

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe to Launch  Bulk-Purchase Solar Community Campaign on Wednesday, April 7

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe to Launch Bulk-Purchase Solar Community Campaign on Wednesday, April 7

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe to Launch Bulk-Purchase Solar Community Campaign on Wednesday, April 7

For Immediate Release:

March 25, 2021

Local Solarize Campaign Centers Workforce Development, Affordability

Asheville, N.C. — A coalition of local organizations is launching Solarize Asheville-Buncombe, a community-based group-purchasing solar campaign that makes solar energy and battery storage more affordable to participants. A virtual launch event on Wednesday, April 7 at 6:00 p.m. will feature Vice-Mayor Sheneika Smith, Buncombe County Commission Chair Brownie Newman, and Solarize Asheville-Buncombe Steering Committee members. 

Both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have adopted a community-wide goal to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2042. The Solarize coalition – consisting of partners such as Green Built Alliance, MountainTrue, Green Opportunities, and Hood Huggers International – will help residents and businesses along that path by reducing barriers and costs to solar energy and lowering the carbon footprint of our community. 

Solarize Asheville-Buncombe is open to all property owners in Buncombe County, and follows a campaign model that has been successful in more than 300 other communities in the U.S. Based on a tiered “bulk” purchasing platform, the more local residents and business owners that contract for their solar installations through the campaign, the greater the savings are for all. However, Solarize Asheville-Buncombe is nationally-unique in its focus on equitable workforce development in the green energy industry and affordability initiatives. 

Media are invited to speak with the Solarize Asheville-Buncombe team and Vice-Mayor Sheneika Smith on Monday, April 5 between 3:00-4:30 p.m. outside 21 Mardell Circle in the Burton Street Community in West Asheville.

Workforce Development

The Solarize committee included a goal of fostering local workforce development in the campaign’s contract for interested solar installers. In the process, Solarize-Asheville Buncombe has established a partnership with Green Opportunities (GO), an Asheville-based nonprofit committed to empowering marginalized communities toward sustainable employment. This collaboration aims to create long-lasting pathways to clean energy jobs in Buncombe County.

“GO is honored and excited to be a part of this initiative,” said Ben Williamson, executive director (interim) of Green Opportunities. “Green sector jobs are on the rise, and many positions in this sector are accessible to those with traditional obstacles to employment. We have already begun researching training programs for these jobs and look forward to launching soon. We also know climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color and that increasing access to clean, renewable energy is a step in the right direction in that fight.”

Affordability

Going solar can decrease energy and economic burdens for all participants and, in particular, for low- and moderate-income community members, of which communities of color make up a disproportionate share.  Another priority for the Solarize committee is to create deeper cost reductions for solar energy for low and moderate income community members via fundraising and financing. The campaign is fundraising and securing grant and foundation funding to increase accessibility and affordability of solar, and also utilizing census tract data and the City of Asheville’s energy burden map to prioritize outreach.

Already, more than 70 individuals have signed up for a free solar evaluation at their properties since the campaign began accepting advance registrations. Interested residents and businesses may go to www.solarizeabc.com now to learn more, receive advance information on campaign details, register for the April 7 virtual launch event, and sign up for a free evaluation. Descriptions of tiered pricing and equipment options will be forthcoming as well as details about valuable energy tax credits that can be applied in 2021.

*****

About Solarize Asheville-Buncombe: Solarize Asheville-Buncombe is a campaign forged and supported by a local public-private coalition involving Blue Horizons Project, City of Asheville, Buncombe County, Green Built Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club – WENOCA, Hood Huggers International, Umoja Collective, MountainTrue, Green Opportunities, Asheville Homestay Network and The Collider, and administered by Solar Crowdsource. Solarize Asheville-Buncombe aims to lower the cost of solar energy and battery storage installations through the power of bulk purchasing, reducing contractor acquisition costs, and transferring those savings to the residential and commercial residents.

Contact: Ken Haldin | ken@solarcrowdsource.com | (404) 405-2924 

Sophie Mullinax | sophie@bluehorizonsproject.com | (828) 484-6585


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Take Action: Call On the NC Utilities Commission to Approve the Woodfin Solar Landfill Project!

Take Action: Call On the NC Utilities Commission to Approve the Woodfin Solar Landfill Project!

 

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Protect Solar Panels at Asheville City Schools. Call For The School Board To Say Yes To Solar Now.

Protect Solar Panels at Asheville City Schools. Call For The School Board To Say Yes To Solar Now.

 

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Why MountainTrue Must Fight Racism

Why MountainTrue Must Fight Racism

Why MountainTrue Must Fight Racism

When MountainTrue was formed through the merger of the Western North Carolina Alliance, the Environmental Conservation Organization and the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance in 2015, the organization inherited a broad scope of programs focused on protecting our rivers and public forests, reducing our region’s dependence on fossil fuels and encouraging smart growth to improve the health of our communities and reduce the impacts of development on our natural environment.

In the five years since the merger, the organization has been working on addressing issues of racism and equity: all MountainTrue staff members enroll in the Racial Equity Institute, the Building Bridges program or both; we’ve taken strides to diversify our board and staff; and we’re working to build partnerships with communities that are fighting for equitable access to resources and power.

That process has been coalescing and transformational. If you had asked us five years ago, two years ago or even just a few weeks back about our priorities and responsibilities on race and equity, you would have gotten different answers than today. We’ve been evolving toward a wider focus. Yes to protecting forests and rivers and advocating for better public transit, more greenways, clean energy, and dense development for the environmental benefits, but we are also thinking more broadly about how we can help foster communities where people are truly healthy. And this means communities that are free from racism, and where there is equity in the social determinants of health — housing, transportation, education and jobs.

Racial segregation and poverty are outcomes of bad policy.

Poverty and racial disparities have been sustained through bad policies that have disproportionately impacted people of color. This is clearly evident in the histories of Redlining and Urban Renewal. Redlining was the systemic denial of services, especially home loans, to people in Black communities established by the Federal Housing Administration in 1934 and replicated by private lenders and local governments that established racially-restrictive local zoning ordinances. Through a combination of redlining, deed restrictions, exclusionary zoning and leasing practices, and racism on the part of local governments, Black people were relegated to the poorest neighborhoods with the least public services. And because Black people could not get loans to improve or fix their homes, the quality of housing and other structures in these neighborhoods deteriorated and property values fell such that homeownership for Black families did not allow for the accumulation of generational wealth.

Despite these restrictions, Black communities in Asheville like Hill Street and Stumptown, the East End and the South Side were vibrant, thriving centers of Black life. City planners, however, saw only pockets of urban decay ripe for redevelopment under the guise of “Urban Renewal.” In the years after World War II, the federal government funded a massive building boom through the passage of the Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954, and the construction of a vast network of highways through the Federal Highway Act of 1944. With federal dollars flowing to municipal coffers, cities like Asheville were free to redevelop their urban cores, and it was poorer Black neighborhoods that were targeted. Much of the East End was razed to make way for South Charlotte Street and MLK Drive. In the Southside neighborhood more than 1,000 homes, 50 businesses and seven churches were demolished to make way for more upscale housing. In the Hill Street neighborhood, entire street grids were erased from the map to make way for Asheville’s Cross-Town Expressway.

In towns and cities across the country, vibrant communities of color were destroyed and their residents displaced. Some were forced to live in public housing communities that became pockets of concentrated poverty. Many others had to find cheap housing in the least desirable areas near highways, factories, refineries and landfills.

Pollution disproportionately affects the poor and communities of color.

These neighborhoods where the air is thicker with automobile exhaust, smog and fumes, and the soil and water are more likely to be poisoned with lead, heavy metals and other industrial pollutants have been dubbed “sacrifice zones.” The higher concentrations of pollution in these areas have an enormous effect on human health and childhood development and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. For instance, generations of poor kids who grew up near highways breathed air thick with the exhaust of leaded gasoline, and, even now, children in these neighborhoods are more likely to have high blood lead levels because the soil near these roads is still contaminated. Lead has been linked to reduced IQs, attention problems and aggressive behavior, and has been identified as a possible cause of the crimewave that besieged the nation from the mid-sixties through the early nineties.

It would be a mistake to reduce this oppression to simply matters of historical mistakes, market demand and geography. Redlining was explicitly racist, as was the targeting for destruction of poor and communities of color by mid-twentieth century urban planners. Similarly, proximity does not fully explain why Black and Brown communities suffer higher levels of air pollution. The National Center for Environmental Assessment finds that Black and Latino people are exposed to about 1.5 times and 1.3 times more particulate matter, respectively, than White people and that emissions are generally higher from factories located in communities of color than those located in wealthier White neighborhoods. Decisions are being made to site more polluting factories in poor neighborhoods than rich neighborhoods, and then to run the factories in Black and Brown neighborhoods dirtier. This is more than economic oppression. It’s environmental racism and it’s a dynamic that has been repeated time and again — famously in the financial decisions that lead to the Flint, Michigan water crisis and the state’s negligent response. Poor people are exploited for profit, and Black and Brown people most of all.

No zone should be sacrificed.

The society that we now inhabit is one where Black and Brown people have fewer opportunities, are more likely to live in areas that are polluted and dangerous, and are more likely to be trapped in cycles of poverty. To make matters worse: layered on top of this structural racism is a brutal criminal justice system, a broken healthcare system, an anemic educational system, crumbling infrastructure and growing food insecurity. In each and every regard, the consequences of these systemic failures fall heaviest on poor Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Set to topple all these fragile civic institutions is the leviathan threat of Climate Change, which, if left unchecked, will flood our lowlands and mountain valleys in wet years and burn our mountaintops in drought years. Already, the outlines of this dystopia are clear: people and communities with resources will be better positioned to adapt, fortify and recover from disasters. Poorer communities will be sacrificed, largely abandoned by our federal government like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the American citizens of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the Black neighborhoods of Houston that were flooded by industrial pollution during Hurricane Harvey, or the towns in Eastern North Carolina where homes were flooded with water tainted by millions of gallons of animal waste during Hurricane Florence.

But acting on climate change is not simply altruism, because the security of wealth will be fleeting. Climate Change is proceeding at a pace that has taken scientists by surprise and contributes to a wide spectrum of related maladies such as water shortages, crop destruction and the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. The climate challenges laid out in the October 2018 IPCC report will be insurmountable for a nation that is depleted and divided. Time is running out: to avoid climate catastrophe, we must stop sacrificing our most vulnerable populations, unite and act now.

Our conscience demands action and unity.

The wider movement needed to repair our country, protect our environment and take on climate change must be multicultural and firmly committed to dismantling racism and all systems of structural oppression. This was the strategic rationale of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign — which he described as “the beginning of a new co-operation, understanding, and a determination by poor people of all colors and backgrounds to assert and win their right to a decent life and respect for their culture and dignity” — and later of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. Both civil rights leaders understood that an anti-racist movement in which White participation is based only on notions of altruism of charity will exhaust itself and fail to create the mass politics needed to win lasting systemic change.

It’s been two years since the 2018 IPCC report was published warning of dire circumstances of not taking bold, swift action to curtail climate catastrophe. It has been nearly 40 years since Professor and NASA scientist James Hansen gave Congressional testimony about the threat of global warming. In that time our elected leaders have failed to meet the challenge head on. Worse, they’ve scoffed at proposals of the magnitude needed to address the climate crisis head on.

We have our work cut out for us. MountainTrue and its members must commit to the work of dismantling structural racism and uniting our communities in the fight for justice and survival in the face of climate change. Neither cause can succeed on its own; all are interconnected. We know that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with communities fighting for justice.

As an organization, MountainTrue is committed to fighting racism and economic inequity, because meeting our core mission of protecting communities and the environment requires it. This means we must be ready to take on fights that are beyond the scope of traditional environmentalism. We will live our values and use our influence and institutional power to win a more equitable future, and we invite you, as a MountainTrue supporter, to join us.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Call On Buncombe County Commissioners To Vote YES To 40 Solar Projects!

Call On Buncombe County Commissioners To Vote YES To 40 Solar Projects!

Call On Buncombe County Commissioners To Vote YES To 40 Solar Projects!

On July 21, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will vote on whether or not to install solar panels at 40 sites of county-owned buildings, Asheville City and Buncombe County public schools and A-B Tech Community College. Will you take action below to call on our Commissioners to vote YES on Tuesday?

 

Why We Support:

  • This proposal would install about 6.7 MW of new solar energy in Buncombe County – the equivalent of powering 677 homes entirely with solar each year. Since these solar energy systems are expected to last 30–40 years, this is equal to taking 677 homes off the grid.
  • The solar panels would be installed by an employee-owned solar company based right here in Buncombe County, showing that we can face the climate crisis and support local jobs at the same time.
  • The prices offered to install these solar projects are significantly cheaper than what County staff first estimated, and the energy savings from the solar panels will save the county money on utility costs every single year.
  • Buncombe County made a commitment in 2017 to move our county to 100% renewable energy. Voting yes to these projects is an important step to start making progress on this commitment.

The county’s vote on Tuesday will decide whether all 40 of these solar projects move forward. Will you take action by contacting the Board of Commissioners below?

Note: The “elected official” title will automatically fill in with the names of the Commissioners once sent. We highly encourage you to customize your message and add why this issue matters to you!

Submit a public comment to be read at Tuesday’s Commission meeting before the vote by emailing comment@buncombecounty.org or calling and leaving a voicemail at 828-250-6500.