Black Mountain plans to install solar panels on Carver Center, cites payback options

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain plans to add solar panels to the roof of the Carver Center with eventual payback leading to free energy.

Black Mountain plans to add solar panels to the roof of the Carver Center in the next few weeks, a project that should provide payback and eventually, free energy.

"I think we should have them on every town building," said Town Council member Pam King, a steady advocate for the town's use of renewable energy. "We're doing it as fast as we can. It's just a funding thing. Definitely pays off. It's an investment, really."

Previously the home of the Recreation and Parks department, the Carver Center has served the past few years as the Black Mountain Montessori School.

The project totals roughly $100,000, with payback over the course of the next 10 years, according to Josh Harrold, town manager. He said if all goes to plan, 10 years from now, the town will be utilizing free energy.

"We've had this in the budget all year this year, and we haven't started the project yet, but it's set to start probably in the next couple of weeks," Harrold said. 

For the 32 kilowatt system, 79 solar panel modules will be needed.

The work will be done by Renu Energy Solutions, a private contractor for the project. On its website, Renu advertises 74% of roofs throughout North Carolina as ideal candidates for solar panels.

"Renu is excited to partner with the Town of Black Mountain," said Renu senior consultant Matthew Culley. "This project demonstrates the town's commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability and also makes sense financially."

Culley said Renu has worked on several projects with Buncombe County as well as the city of Charlotte.

Harrold said solar panel analysis began nearly two years ago with the public safety building, public works and the Carver Center. He said the analysis looked at cost, payback and how big the system itself would be.

"Public safety and public works were more expensive than Carver, so we ended up going with Carver sort of as a pilot to see how that's going to work out," Harrold said.

When the county began similar analysis, Harrold said Black Mountain joined in to conserve funds as part of a "cooperative effort."

Harrold said the solar panels should be up and running by the end of the summer.

Council member Pam King has been a prolific advocate for the town's use of renewable energy sources as well as reducing solid waste.

King said adding solar panels to more town buildings is a viable option for the future. Encouraging multiple other green energy projects in town, King said prioritizing electric vehicles and reducing waste would benefit town staff as well as the community.

"Anything we can do to build the infrastructure around that and make those kinds of options more viable, I'm going to support that," she said. "It takes a variety of options to make it work for everybody."

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.