Black Mountain approves electric vehicle prioritization amid push for climate pledge

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News

Black Mountain community members and business owners voiced concerns over climate change to Town Council on April 11. 

While a typical public forum in Black Mountain features a handful of community members, more than 10 sent emails or addressed Town Council in-person at the April meeting, urging the town to enact a climate change resolution. Though the town did not create such a resolution, the council did approve a prioritization of purchasing electric vehicles in the future. 

Dynamite Roasting Co. purchased an all electric Ford E-Transit to conduct deliveries throughout the local area.

Business owners representing local establishments such as Dynamite Roasting Co. and Louise's Kitchen sent statements to be read at the meeting. Dynamite owner Andy Gibbon talked about his experience with electric vehicles as a means to push for local action.

Steffi Rausch, a volunteer with the Citizen's Climate Lobby (CCL) who also addressed the council on March 14, returned to encourage the council to pledge support of federal legislation which would create carbon pricing. 

"As leaders of this community, I implore you to act now," Rausch said. "I don't say this to scare you, I say this because I believe it is never too late to leave the world a better place for future generations than that which will result if we give up." 

CCL lobbies local municipalities such as Black Mountain to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act to show federal lawmakers local support. This piece of legislation proposes a fee on carbon at the source, returning 100% of net revenue to all Americans as a dividend. 

Other community members who addressed the council spoke from the perspectives of older members of the community seeking a better future for grandchildren. Nearly every community member asked Town Council to pledge support for the carbon pricing initiative introduced by CCL.

"We all need to do our part," said community member Bob Cumbie. "If you take action, you will know you have done your part to save our beautiful planet."

Jane Goldthwaite, another community member who spoke at the meeting, discussed drastic temperature changes and flooding in the area as some of her primary concerns about climate change. She said the CCL approach must happen to ensure zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"First, the United States needs to get rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels and save us on taxes," Goldthwaite said. "In addition, we need to have town contracts for electricity obtained from clean energy like solar and wind."

Dynamite Roasting Co. installed solar panels on the roof of its cafe, accounting for roughly 40% of the coffee house's power.

With the adoption of the electric vehicle prioritization, if the town finds comparable electric options with standard, fossil fuel vehicles, it must go with the electric.

Representing Dynamite, Gibbon said he was motivated to write a letter after reading a quote form the mayor about the high cost of green solutions.

"That is just not our experience at all," Gibbon said. "Solar power and electric vehicles will save us thousands and thousands of dollars."

After constructing an 8,000 square foot building in Swannanoa, Gibbon said Dynamite added 156 solar panels, producing 15 times the electricity the facility consumes. Additionally, needing a new delivery vehicle, the coffee company purchased a 100% electric Ford E-Transit. 

Charging the vehicle directly from the solar powered building, the Ford runs on solar power. Gibbon said the van has a range of roughly 130 miles on a full charge. 

In early April, town staff said they would like to see Black Mountain utilize electric vehicles and clean energy but that cost could create challenges.

More:Black Mountain and climate change: What can the town do to reduce impact?

As a business owner, Gibbon said the switch made sense. What with tax credits, federal grants and rebates from Duke Energy, he said the cost of adding solar panels was relatively cheap. 

Dynamite Roasting Co.'s new Ford E-Transit has a range of roughly 130 miles per charge.

However, according to Josh Harrold, the Black Mountain town manager, such credits, grants and rebates are not available to local governments. For the town, having the financial means remains an important factor in its ability to go green.

Having installed solar panels, Gibbon said the savings for Dynamite in the long run will be significant.

"The electric vehicles didn't cost us any more than a conventional purchase, at least not very much," Gibbon said. "The cost of the vehicle versus a conventional vehicle didn't weigh into our decision at all."

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.