It’s been a while but AIRE’s community solar demonstration is finally producing electricity and reducing Boone’s carbon footprint. Here’s a brief update and look ahead to some next steps. Keep in mind the purpose of our first project was to illuminate the barriers to community-based renewable energy, and then create solutions to those barriers.
Here’s our progress so far:
- 2.5 kw solar PV installed atop AIRE’s office at the Greenhouse.
- Small, but significant, design details had to be ironed out between town inspector and installers. (For example, what standard for grounding will Boone adopt?)
- Utility interconnection standard had to be created. We can’t connect to the grid without this. We connect to New River Light & Power; BREMCO sells power to New River. New River will have to develop an interconnect standard for the town of Boone, which we understand they will do. It may take a few months. BREMCO and New River will have to sort out their legal agreements over power supply in order for us to begin selling power back to the grid.
- Then we awaited town inspection. Since Boone isn’t San Jose, California where solar panels are commonplace (“like wall-to-wall carpet”), the town didn’t have inspection protocols for solar. After convalescing from surgery, the town inspector blessed our system, and it began producing solar electricity on Friday, July 31st.
- Real-time performance data will be up on AIRE website by August 7th, but for now you can see daily updates on how the system is performing.
- Finalize memberships and donations on the above project (more on this shortly; remember this is a community-owned project)
- Launch “1-megawatt campaign” to solarize Watauga
Talk of these “barriers” isn’t meant to place blame on anyone. On the contrary, AIRE looks forward to working with community and energy partners to improve policies and relationships concerning renewable energy.
We will announce a meeting date in the very near future with an attorney and CPA to answer questions about your participation via memberships and donations.
Thanks once more for you interest and dedication in making locally produced, community owned renewable energy a reality.