Blue Ridge Energy, Roanoke Electric Receive Community Solar Grants - Carolina Country

Blue Ridge Energy, Roanoke Electric Receive Community Solar Grants

Co-ops among only three state utilities selected for the NCWAP grants

Blue Ridge Energy, Roanoke Electric Receive Community Solar Grants

The NC Weatherization Assistance Program (NCWAP) awarded grant funds totaling $128,000 to Blue Ridge Energy, Roanoke Electric Cooperative and Fayetteville Public Works Commission that will provide community solar resources for qualified low-income residents. NCWAP’s pilot program covers a total of 40 homes, providing $3,200 per home.

Target benefits of the community solar pilot program will be approximately $365 per year per eligible household for a period of no less than 15 years. Grant benefits also include NCWAP funding for weatherization services to these single-family households provided by local weatherization programs.

Blue Ridge Energy’s Community Solar Savings Pilot will serve 10 households, with each receiving a bill credit for the energy generated by solar panels. Grant funds will cover a 17-year subscription to four community solar panels per home.

“We are honored to be among only three state utility entities selected for this grant,” said Blue Ridge Energy COO Alan Merck. “This grant helps us go beyond the various helping programs we currently have in place and maximizes access to the five community solar gardens we’ve built across our service area for clean, renewable energy.”

This grant ... maximizes access to the five community solar gardens we’ve built across our service area

Roanoke Electric Cooperative will serve 20 homes participating in the Upgrade to Save Community Solar Program. The community solar participation will allow the households to share in the community solar garden and receive future billing credits.

“Even though solar energy’s costs continue to decrease, the expense of purchasing a solar panel block in order to benefit from the block’s energy output still is out of reach for a lot of low- and moderate-income households,” said Roanoke Electric COO Marshall Cherry. “Because of this community solar pilot program, this financial hurdle will be eliminated and 20 qualifying families will live more comfortably with lower energy bills for years to come.”

“This is an innovative approach that allows low-income households to support and participate in a clean energy resource that would otherwise be inaccessible,” said NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan. “Programs like this are key to creating a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.”

Comments (2)

  • Good to see those co-op's helping folks with Solar Panels to generate electricity. But what about the folks who invested in solar and are just getting pennies for the power that is generated back into the system. When I read a story in Carolina County about the benefits of solar is seems so two faced.

    Bill Lane | November 30, 2019 | reply

    • Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your interest in solar power as well as your concerns about policies. As far as consumer-owned rooftop solar goes, policies and rates vary from co-op to co-op. But electric cooperatives encourage members to contact them for more information when considering such an investment, and will always work with a member on specific concerns. We’ll look for ways to talk more about solar power in the magazine going forward.

      Carolina Country | December 03, 2019 | reply

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