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.

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.”

Representatives of Blue Ridge Community Action and Blue Ridge Energy with NC DEQ Sec. Michael Regan (center)

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.

“We are extremely pleased that Roanoke Electric is one of the organizations chosen for community solar grants that will have a direct and positive impact on the quality of life for deserving families in our service area,” said Roanoke Electric COO Marshall Cherry. “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. 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.”

Roanoke Electric’s community solar garden

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. 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.

“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 DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. “Programs like this are key to creating a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.”