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Please share your comments on the Asheville/Buncombe 100% renewable energy draft report.

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Please provide your comments on “Moving to 100 Perfect: Renewable Energy Pathways Transition Analysis for Buncombe County and the City of Asheville.” The report is available for review at the link provided in the survey introduction. Here is another link:

Michelle Myers inside City Boundary
August 30, 2019, 7:10 PM
  • Please provide your comments on “Moving to 100 Perfect: Renewable Energy Pathways Transition Analysis for Buncombe County and the City of Asheville.” The report is available for review at the link provided in the survey introduction. Here is another link:
    The Cadmus report on the draft renewable plan is a good policy analysis but does not provide the strategic planning needed to make a community transition plan. There seems to be a resignation to the status quo on the community wide goal without thinking what public- private partnerships, beyond the partnership already formed with Duke Energy through the Energy Innovation Taskforce (EITF), could do to advance the voluntary market for renewable energy. While advocating for state policy change is important, the City and County should explore pathways that are not reliant on state-level changes. There may be opportunities to work with a local legislative delegation to craft a bill to allow stricter building standards, solar requirements, or other desired state changes as local pilot programs. The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners or the National Association of County Governments can be resources for this process of putting forward a “mother may I” bill for such initiatives. Please include suggestions for such a bill in the final report. The letter to City and County sustainability staff submitted on July 9th, 2019 from the WNC Renewables Coalition, and again provided for SACEE on August 21st, 2019 requested additional information about the solar citing assumptions used to project the generation capacity on City and County facilities. It also asked for more extensive financial modeling that has not yet been provided. The Cadmus team still does not make recommendations on how to fund municipal installations of renewable energy. Are grants available that the City and County should be applying for? Are there investment and reinvestment cycles that worked for other projects in other places? Have City and County buildings gone through energy efficiency audits to show what savings could be done achieved through upfront investment? Cadmus should paint a picture of these scenarios that can later be informed by actual bids for solar installation and efficiency upgrades. City staff mentioned that Cadmus completed an analysis of the solar power generation potential, but it was not included in the report. Estimations of municipal solar potential should include rooftop, ground mounted, parking lots, and parking garage installations. There should also be an evaluation of solar potential community-wide, to include privately owned roofs, parking lots, and brownfields. Inter connections citing should also be mapped in the report for further conversation at the EITF. A greater emphasis needs to be put on strategies to achieve the 2042 community wide goal. While individual rate payer data may not be available from the utility, there are opportunities to look at building permits and inspections to determine opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades in the residential and commercial sector. The barrier for many residential solar installations to go solar is a favorable lending program. The City and County could work to develop a program that helps individuals finance solar. The report chooses to focus on current electricity consumption, but this fails to find the triple bottom line opportunities of energy efficiency upgrades, electric vehicle integration, transition to heat pump technologies, and solarization of City and County facilities. While the limitations in the transition of our electric supply for the community are significant with limited alternative purchasing power, the report fails to quantify the combined impact of improved public transit, increased electric vehicles, behavior change, energy efficiency measures and expanded use of efficient appliances including heating and cooling. It is only by looking at reduced vehicle mile trip (VMT) reduction, increased electricity demand and decreased fuel consumption that we get whole picture of the emission reduction. The community’s aims of the 100% renewable energy plan were for climate and environmental protections as stated by survey respondents. We must look at integrated systems, rather than piece meal changes to achieve the maximum reduction possible. The report did not mention demand response reduction /demand side management technologies. These programs have been successfully used by Duke Power in the past to ensure the needed electrical supply for emergency situations and as smart meters and the smart grid are implemented, technologies will be improving. The EITF is the perfect platform to continue working with Duke to cycle power use most efficiently to reduce overall consumption. The report does not mention how battery storage could be utilized to shave peak load or for cost efficiency measures. Falling battery storage prices offer an opportunity – with or without solar generation – to cut deeply into the demand that represent roughly half of their wholesale payments to Duke Energy. Retail customers on certain rate tariffs who pay high demand charges, such as medium to large commercial customers, can also save significantly by using onsite battery storage to reduce their peak demand. What is encouraging is the amount of knowledge, concern, ability, and willingness to try to solve this difficult challenge this community holds. Asheville and Buncombe County can be a leader in the transition to a more sustainable and climate resilient world. Buncombe County is already becoming a haven for climate refugees. We should make this climate city a model of climate solutions as well as adaptation so that communities following in our footsteps can transition quickly. Let us dream big and push for what this community can do together. This is not the responsibility of any one agency or office in municipal government. We need a roadmap that taps the creativity and wisdom of our most precious resource—each other. It would be wonderful to have a response or workshop on the ideas submitted along with the final report. Please allow for one month to engage a broader section of the community to participate in such an event so that NGOs and the community engagement team from the City and County can be part of the planning, facilitation and outreach of such a workshop. These ideas are informed by many people I have consulted and work that has achieved great gains towards renewable power.
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