“Flip the Switch” Ceremony Held for Brighter Future Solar Facility on Grace Chapel Road

LENOIR, NC (February 22, 2022) – Blue Ridge Energy celebrated a historic day as it held a “Flip the Switch” ceremony to recognize the launch of one of the largest solar facilities in the region, benefiting its members with carbon-free electricity while also producing long-term savings for members through demand reduction.

The Brighter Future Solar facility covers approximately 55 acres in southern Caldwell County and will provide 19,000 megawatt hours of clean electricity each year to be added to the local grid— enough to power 1,600 homes alone.

Ceremoniously flipping the switch for the Brighter Future Solar facility: Kneeling: Tetsushi Ikuta, President, Osaka Gas; standing l to r: Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) America; Doug Johnson, CEO, Blue Ridge Energy; and Mas Ogiso, President and CEO, Oriden.

“We are excited to “Flip the Switch” and celebrate the beneficial impact the Brighter Future Solar facility will have on our members living in northwest North Carolina,” said Doug Johnson, chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Energy. “We set out to meet an ambitious goal that included significant carbon reduction while also making sure we look out for our members and keep the promise of low-cost electricity in mind. Not only will the output of this energy help us Power a Brighter Future, it will also help us maintain stable electricity rates, saving our members money over time,” said Johnson.

The Brighter Future Solar project will significantly contribute to reducing peak period wholesale power costs for Blue Ridge Energy, which in turn helps the cooperative keep member rates lower. Peaks occur when power is the costliest because consumers create high demand for electricity during a short time period, such as the hottest summer afternoons.

No member funds were used for the facility. Blue Ridge Energy is purchasing the full output of the array through a 25-year fully bundled Power Purchase Agreement.

Blue Ridge Energy Solar Project – Grace Chapel Road 09-26-2021

“This is the latest step on the path to a decarbonized world,” said Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, at a launch event on February 22. “It is a blueprint for other communities looking to increase renewable energy and reach net-zero. Additionally, it represents one of the many ways MHI is partnering with other organizations, businesses and stakeholders to build a more sustainable future.”

Owners of the Brighter Future Solar project are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in partnership with Osaka Gas USA.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group is one of the world’s leading industrial groups, spanning energy, logistics & infrastructure, industrial machinery, aerospace and defense. MHI Group combines cutting-edge technology with deep experience to deliver innovative, integrated solutions that help to realize a carbon neutral world, improve the quality of life and ensure a safer world. For more information, please visit www.mhi.com.


OGUSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., one of the largest energy utility companies in Japan, focusing on its four core businesses of power generation, shale gas development, natural gas liquefaction at Freeport LNG, and future energy development/innovation. OGUSA strives to contribute to achieving a low carbon/carbon neutral society by developing renewables as well as natural gas-fired power plants. For more information, please visit OSAKA GAS USA

Blue Ridge Energy

Blue Ridge Energy is an electric cooperative serving some 78,000 members in the western North Carolina counties of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery and Alexander. Focused on meeting sustainability goals while upholding reliability and affordability for its members, Blue Ridge Energy is committed to efforts that make the grid more flexible, efficient, resilient and capable of supporting new energy solutions and the vitality of the communities it serves. In addition to receiving solar energy from the large-scale Brighter Future array, Blue Ridge Energy also receives solar power for the local grid from its five community solar gardens.

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