Renewable Energy in Boone

What is 'Renewable Energy', and How is it Different than Other Energy Sources?

The term 'Renewable Energy' has been used for decades, but what exactly does it mean? 'Renewable Energy' is simply any form of energy created from renewable resources. The fuel is not consumed or burned to create the energy. This includes solar energy, wind energy, hydroelectric power, geothermal, and more. This means no fossil fuels like coal andTips and Tricks to Become an Energy-Conscience Citizen Infographic Opens in new window gas, even though they are derived from the Earth.

Another way to understand what exactly makes a source of energy 'renewable' is what it produces (or in this case, what it doesn't produce). In order for an energy to be labeled 'renewable', it cannot produce any greenhouse gases (GHG). For example, solar energy gathered from solar panels absorbs the sun's rays and produces an energy source free from any greenhouse gas emissions which warm the Earth and increase climate change. However, fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal, require mining to extract the fuel and the burning of the fuel leads to heavy GHG emissions.

A couple of other differences between renewable energy and other sources of energy are how they are replenished and harvested. Renewable energy sources usually are naturally replenished, as opposed to fossil fuel sources like natural gas or coal, which can take millions of years to create and develop. Renewable energy sources also often avoid mining or drilling operations that can be damaging to eco-systems.

Renewable Energy in Boone

In 2019, the Town of Boone's Town Council gave the town three sustainable goals to meet: By 2030 all town municipal operations need to be climate neutral, by 2040 all town municipal operations need to use 100% clean energy and by 2050 the entire town should be transitioned to 100% clean, renewable energy. While the first milestones deal with town municipal operations, that doesn't mean we aren't working to make renewable energy available for residents of Boone before 2050. In fact, the Town of Boone is working with local energy providers to promote their efforts for providing clean, renewable energy to their customers!

Renewable Electricity in Municipal OperationsSolar Array in a Dirt Field Located in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Photo Credits from Blue Ridge Energy

In 2020, the Town of Boone's municipal operations used 7GWh, or 7,000,000 KWh of electricity/year. According to the current grid portfolio, that's 2,671 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. That's the equivalent 3,205 acres of deforestation/year, which is about the size of Boone. Crazy, isn't it?!

As of February 2022, all municipal electricity is generated using 100% renewable energy sources! With the partnership between the Town's two energy providers, Appalachian State's New River Light and Power (NRLP) and Blue Ridge Energy (BRE), Boone is the first municipality in the state of North Carolina to achieve this goal.

App State's NRLP is providing the Town with 1.65 GWh of hydroelectric power. BRE is providing the Town with 5.35 GWh of solar energy through their new solar array in Caldwell County. Boone now has access to 7GWh of 100% renewable energy sources to power all municipal electricity. So, what does that mean for you?

Renewable EnergGreen Power Program Logoy for the Entire Town

With the Town's municipal electricity being generated using 100% renewable energy sources, that leaves more time for the Town to truly focus on bringing clean energy to the public as well.

App State's NRLP has recently created the Green Power Program, a program which offers green energy to their customers. Customers can choose to purchase blocks of hydroelectric power to offset their monthly carbon-based electricity use. Each block costs $5 and represents 250 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy. On average, a residential customer uses 750 kWh of electricity per month, meaning many customers can offset 100% of their usage with renewable power for just $15 extra per month.