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Residential Spotlight: The Stair/Peery Home
"16 panels, George Peery, and Mary Stair straddling cold frame of winter vegetables."
Mary Stair and George Peery are among some of the first to sign on with Solarize Asheville and have proudly been producing clean energy on their home for over a month now. They shared their story with Cathy Scott of Transition Asheville, who has been writing a blog following the Solarize Campaign, and I am pleased to be able to share it here.
It is a story of honesty and passion, and recounts their long journey of reducing their carbon impact. Their determination to Solarize included a very poignant decision to remove a few pine trees, but their willingness to step out of their comfort zone for what they believe in was strong. I can only imagine that the additional sun will bring more to their lives, including gardening and growing their own food, in addition to becoming their own power producers. As George tells it “Solarize Asheville is building community. It takes individual decisions and pools them together to increase their impact… This is how we participate in how we gotta go, to preserve this environment we live in, this planet we are part of."
Thanks George and Mary for sharing your experience, and to Cathy for capturing it so beautifully.
* The net-metered solar electric system that George and Mary chose to install totals 4 kW, and consists of 250 LG modules, DPW Racking, and SolarEdge DC Optimization, Monitoring, and Inverter. Its annual generation is estimated to be 4, 284 kilowatt hours.
** The Solarize Asheville Campaign is closing on February 28th. We'll have a program summary coming in March.
Commercial Spotlight: Samsel Architects
Solar Energy has received a significant amount of attention in Asheville lately, but nowhere is the recent solarization of homes and businesses that has been taking place in this progressive City more strikingly visible than on Biltmore Avenue. Cantilevered off the South-facing parapet of the building that houses American Folk Art and Framing, four impressively large photovoltaic arrays are silently producing electricity. However, the statement they make is anything but mute; rather it is a strong declaration that this community embraces sustainability and innovation.
A leader on the revitalization of Downtown Asheville since the 1980’s when most of the buildings along this now vibrant stretch of galleries and restaurants lay derelict, Jim Samsel, AIA of Samsel Architectsand Beaumont Street, LLC (property owners) is again behind the new energy that is transforming the face of Asheville. “The buildings have excellent solar access and we were keenly aware of the high visibility the project would have. The PV panels allow us to make a strong statement about our values as a business and as members of our downtown community. We hope other downtown businesses and building owners are inspired to make similar investments in solar energy,” said Samsel of the newly commissioned system.
The architectural uniqueness of this solar installation is the result of design challenges that were posed by a roof with many obstructions and limited space. Mounting fifty-seven of the one hundred and seventeen LG Neon series 290 watt modules that comprise the 34 kilowatt system on customized racking by DPW Solar (featured in our Vendor Spotlight below) allowed for maximum energy production for Samsel Architects and American Folk Art & Framing. With an estimated yearly production of nearly 46 megawatts, Samsel’s goal is to make his architectural firm net-zero, meaning that they will produce an equivalent amount of electricity that they consume on an annual basis. Sophisticated on-line monitoring through SolarEdge will allow him to track the system’s performance and measure this goal. SolarEdge’s DC Power Optimization technology was chosen to maximize the output, helping to make it more achievable on the site.
Duncan McPherson, Principal/Vice President at Samsel Architects, emphasizes their commitment to reducing their energy impact by stating “WNC has seen the reality of global climate change through floods, mudslides, droughts and record temperatures. These global concerns, combined with the regional air and water quality problems we face from coal burning power plants, require us to all be an active part of the solution moving forward. By investment in clean energy and taking our business to net zero, we believe we are part of that solution.”
Economics also played an important factor in their decision to install solar. McPherson says that solar PV has “evolved to the point where it is simply a sound, long-term investment. As the known costs of coal-fired electricity continue to rise and the costs of solar power continue to fall, the investment should be more valuable over time.”
The impact of this very prominent system on Downtown Asheville and all who see it remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly inspire for years to come and stand as testimony to the environmental stewardship, smart business sense, and creativity that Samsel Architects has brought to the southern Appalachian region since 1985.
Vendor Spotlight: DPW Solar
We are excited to introduce you to one of our Vendors- DPW Solar. DPW Solar was founded in 1993 and they design and manufacture innovative mounting solutions for many PV solar applications. Their design and manufacture includes commercial, industrial, government, utility, and residential applications.
Our commercial spotlight in this newsletter features the recent installation at Samsel Architects. This system is gorgeous and includes a custom design awning rack, specifically designed for the Samsel Architects project by DPW Solar.
DPW Solar provides reliable, field proven, racking systems for pole mount, roof top and ground mount applications. Their mounting system continues to out-perform in harsh environments on stadiums, airports, retail stores, schools, universities and commercial buildings worldwide. Here at Sundance, we enjoy working with DPW Solar because they consistently deliver added value with their expertise and unparalleled customer support. It has been our experience that DPW responds to our needs quickly and with precision.
Community Connections: Carolina Community Energy Partnerships
We are excited to share with you a new nonprofit in the area that will be working to increase clean energy from the sun by 20% and increase housing and overall energy efficiency by 20% in our region. This effort is by Carolina Community Energy Partnerships and will directly reduce the amount of Mountain top removal coal that is burned at Duke Energy’s Lake Julian Coal Plant. The campaign is “20% by 2020."
Free public educational programs, open community meetings, a (soon to be launched) website for free easy access to resources and information, plus transparent metrics on the impacts of the project over the next five years are under underway. It’s time we worked together in a regional partnership for a clean energy future. Creating good jobs, protecting the environmental resources of the region, and a shift to a truly sustainable and profitable economic model makes sense. Carolina Community Energy Partnerships will link citizens and consumers with sustainable businesses and organizations in the region that offer the products, information and services we need. WNC has a strong framework in place for sustainable energy models that are proven, effective and make sense economically. As a project of the American Forest Alliance, your support is tax deductible and appreciated to help expand, coordinate and provide access to the many excellent opportunities we already have available!
Carolina Community Energy Partnerships (CCEP) has some upcoming events and they would be thrilled to see you at them!
Feb. 19th: Transylvania County CCEP free citizen and business organizing meeting, 6:00 PM at the Rogow Room, Transylvania Public Library, Brevard, NC. The Community Partner for this meeting is People for Clean Mountains (PCM). Richard Bankerwill also present information on large scale solar investments for the County.
Feb. 24th: CCEP Regional Business and Organization Leaders Meeting, 6:30 PM at Biz611, Hendersonville. Please contact Ned Ryan Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
March 3: CCEP's "Our Solar Community" free presentation for homeowners and small businesses covering solar systems investment, applications, tax benefits and financing, held at Biz611, Hendersonville. Please register in advance at www.oursoutherncommunity.org. Coming in March: Asheville CCEP free citizen and business community meeting. Stay tuned!
Check out the new Facebook page for Carolina Community Energy Partnerships for updates & more information on how you can support this initiative.
Is it just me? Or, does there seem to be an unprecedented number of energy related spills going on right now?
In November, in rural Alabama, a train derailed and exploded, releasing 2.7 million gallons of crude oil. In January, a massive chemical spill (a toxic chemical used to clean coal) into the Elk River in West Virginia has left residents still unable to use their water. February has seen spills left and right: a coal slurry spill on the Kanawha River in WV- basically the same area that is still suffering from the earlier chemical spill; a massive release of coal ash into the Dan River in Virginia; another train derailing up in Minnesota that has 12,000 gallons of spilled crude oil; a train derailed and spilling Canadian crude oil in Pennsylvania and just this week- so close to home- 5,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled in Hominy Creek and have since made it into the French Broad River.
What is going on? At what point do we stop the madness? When we no longer have clean water to drink- it’s game over. Between the spills, the accidents, the fracking, the coal ash, the heavy metals- things are looking ominous.
What happens when solar spills? Oh- right, it’s called a nice day.
There are a number of ways in which we really need to step up and take action. First- we need to pay attention and hold the corporations behind these spills accountable. Next, we need to let our elected officials know that we are paying attention and we demand accountability. And- we need to take steps to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels- through efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and making the switch to clean, sustainable and renewable solar, wind and water power.
Some ways we can begin to address the spills include the following:
*Greenpeace has a petition, started by campaigner Ben Kroetz, to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, which says: I am writing to demand that Duke Energy clean up the coal ash in the Dan River and prevent future disasters from occurring at its other unlined coal ash dumps. This toxic waste must be removed and stored in dry, lined landfills to protect the safety of our drinking water, rivers, and lakes. You can sign this petition here: Sign Ben's petition
*2013 was the worst year yet for rail car spills – this one is harder to address as effective work is almost always needed state by state. However- one big step with far reaching consequences is to take action against the Keystone XL pipeline. You can find more information on this in our “Take Action” section. Don’t postpone this action as the deadline for comments is March 7th. Fast approaching.
(photo credit to AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Please contact us at:
11 Salem Hill Road
Weaverville, NC 28787
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Asheville Green Drinks “Future of Sustainable Transportation”
Wednesday, February 19
5:30 – 7:00 PM
Join Asheville Green Drinks at the Green Sage Coffeehouse and Cafe for a presentation by automotive engineer Dave Erb on “Powering Forward: Four Commandments, Four Heresies, Three Comments,” a talk first delivered to the American Solar Energy Society’s 2013 annual convention. More details found here.
Clean Energy Presentation
Wednesday, February 19
6:30 – 7:30 PM
People for Clean Mountains is hosting a discussion for emerging options for developing clean energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable development for Transylvania County residents. Ned Ryan Doyle will discuss the Carolina Community Energy Partnerships project, and Richard Banker of Renewable Energy Results will present opportunities for commercial scale solar energy investments. More details can be found in this Press Release.
Kingsport Home Show
March 7, 8 & 9
Come and talk solar with Paul Sutton, our Renewable Energy Consultant that serves Eastern Tennessee, to learn how you can benefit from an investment in solar technologies for your home or business. Paul can guide you on how to take advantage of Federal tax credits, financing options and incentives through TVA’s Green Power Providers Program. You’ll be surprised how feasible solar is today.
Held at the MeadowView Conference and Convention Center; more details can be found here.
WNC Home Garden, and Green Living Show
We wouldn’t miss the WNC Home, Garden and Green Living Show, a home show with an eco-twist, and hope you will join us there to learn about how you can green your home or business with Solar! Details on seminars will be included in the next newsletter.
Kudos to the show organizers for their Green Initiatives to minimize the carbon footprint of the show!
Mother Earth News Fair
The Fair is coming to Asheville- The Mother Earth News Fair that is! We’re excited to sponsor this fun-filled, family-oriented homesteading extravaganza, and will be powering the main stage with our solar array.
For now, save the date, and look for details to come closer to the big event.
Our cool energy saving tips for the month of February come from the Environmental Protection Agency- or, the EPA. The EPA gives us some tips on how to handle the dangers of winter conditions and how to protect ourselves here.
Most people on renewable energy don’t have to worry about their power going out, but if owning a renewable energy system is still a dream, be aware that generator exhaust is toxic. Always put generators outside, well away from doors, windows, and vents. Carbon monoxide is deadly, can build up quickly and linger for hours.
The Keystone XL is a proposed pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast refineries. It is estimated that 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil would be transported, refined, exported and burned each day. Tar sands oil has a massive carbon footprint- sometimes requiring more energy to produce than it creates. Numerous climate scientists have predicted “game over” for the climate if the pipeline is built and the tar sands are exploited.
On May 4, 2012, the Department of State received a new application from TransCanada Corp for the pipeline. The Department is considering this new application. On February 5, 2014, the Federal Register published a Notice that invited members of the public to comment on any factor they deem relevant in consideration of this pipeline. This 30 day public comment period will close on March 7, 2014. There are two ways to submit comments- you can submit to regulations.gov, or comments may be mailed directly to:
U.S. Department of State Bureau of Energy Resources
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments 2201 C Street
NW Washington, DC 20520