A strategic spark with Blue Horizons Project’s renewable energy plan

The recently released strategic plan aims to get Buncombe County to 100% renewable energy by 2042.

Isaac Dickson Elementary solar install, funded by Appalachian Offsets (Photo credit_ Sundance Power) for the Strategic Plan for Transitioning Buncombe County to 100% Renewable Energy

Plan initiatives are helping fund solar installation.

Photo by Sundance Power

Table of Contents

Last week, the Blue Horizons Project, a program of nonprofit Green Built Alliance, released the Strategic Plan for Transitioning Buncombe County to 100% Renewable Energy by 2042. Created with input from the community, clean energy experts, BIPOC focus groups, and City of Asheville + Buncombe County leaders, the plan examined the area’s current energy use and developed a strategy for the renewable energy transition (hence its name).

The full plan is very detailed and some 52 pages, so let’s break down the basics about where Buncombe County goes from here.

Getting there

Start with the big picture. The plan established six pathways for renewable energy transition. The technical pathways embrace energy efficiency, electrification, and greening the grid while the action pathways implement the initiatives, enact policy changes and policy advocacy, and build community engagement.

All depend on each other — one technical pathway makes another one easier, and all action areas need to be included each step of the way.

Then take action. These pathways are pretty broad, and there are a lot of initiatives that could get us there, so the plan’s committee narrowed a long list into near-term priorities. These priority initiatives fall into six categories and cover a wide area, like increasing walkable communities + workplaces, installing solar for low-income households, switching to electric vehicles, and even expanding some Duke Energy programs.

Some of the initiatives are already ongoing, like Appalachian Offsets and Energy Savers Network, and the Project is advocating local policy changes that will help the transition.

BHPCC Community Engagement Subcommittee (Photo credit_ Summer Winkler) for the Strategic Plan for Transitioning Buncombe County to 100% Renewable Energy

Community Engagement Subcommittee is one of the ways locals can lend a hand.

Photo by Summer Winkler

Getting involved

The plan was developed with the belief that 100% renewable energy will benefit the community — by combating the climate crisis, protecting ecosystems, and reducing pollutants. And since the community is central to the plan’s motivation, it’s also central to the implementation.

That means you. Right now, you can get involved by attending a Community Council meeting or joining a subcommittee. You can also volunteer with various projects or donate to the Clean Energy Dream Campaign.