Blue Ridge Energy Selected for NCWAP Community Solar Grant to Help Low-Income Members
LENOIR, NC (October 25, 2019) — Blue Ridge Energy was one of three utilities selected by the N.C. Weatherization Assistance Program (NCWAP) for a grant to help low-income members benefit from community solar resources.
Local weatherization assistance programs in Blue Ridge Energy’s service area of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties will be selecting 10 homes to receive grant benefits that include $3,200 per home funded by NCWAP to cover a 15-year subscription to four community solar panels per home. Each will receive a bill credit for the energy generated by the solar panels with target benefits of approximately $365 per year.
Grant benefits also include NCWAP funding for weatherization services to these single-family households provided by local weatherization programs. Services can include energy related health and safety, duct sealing, insulation, air sealing, lighting upgrades (LEDs), refrigerator/heating/cooling system evaluation and replacement if needed.
In Blue Ridge Energy’s service area, local weatherization assistance programs include Blue Ridge Community Action (BRCA), WAMY Community Action, and Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission (BROC).
“We are honored to be among only three state utility entities selected for this grant,” said Alan Merck, Chief Operating Officer of Blue Ridge Energy. “As an electric cooperative utility, we have a deep commitment to helping our local communities. 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,” he said.
Secretary Michael S. Regan of the Department of Environmental Quality stated: “This is an innovative approach that allows low-income households to support and participate in a clean energy resource that would otherwise be inaccessible. Programs like this are key to creating a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.”
NCWAP grant funds totaled $128,000 to the three recipient organizations that included Blue Ridge Energy, Roanoke Electric Cooperative and Fayetteville Public Works Commission. NCWAP’s pilot program covers a total of 40 homes and the funding allows NCWAP clients to participate in the community solar programs of these electric utilities.
NCWAP helps low-income North Carolinians save energy, reduce their utility bills, and stay safe in their homes. Its mission is to keep North Carolina citizens warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and safe all year long while educating the public about energy efficiency and household safety.
Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties as well as parts of Avery, Wilkes and Alexander counties. Its community solar program began in 2017 and now includes 5 solar arrays in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. Community solar offers members easy, affordable access to renewable energy without the expense or maintenance of rooftop solar. For a low monthly subscription rate, members can subscribe to one or more panels and receive a bill credit for the energy produced by the solar gardens. Learn more at BlueRidgeEnergy.com.