Blue Horizons Project Seeks Solar Installer to Partner on Expansion of Neighbor to Neighbor Solar Program Offering No-Cost Renewable-Energy Systems to More Low-Income Residents
Asheville, NC — After a successful launch last year with a dozen local families signing contracts to receive no-cost or low-cost solar systems on their homes, Blue Horizons Project’s Neighbor to Neighbor Solar program is poised to expand its reach in 2022.
A program of Blue Horizons Project operating out of the nonprofit Green Built Alliance, Neighbor to Neighbor Solar has issued a Request for Proposals for solar installers interested in supporting its efforts to provide no-cost solar-energy systems to low-income Buncombe County households. The program aims to make the economic and environmental benefits of residential solar accessible to communities who have often been left out of the clean-energy movement.
“Local data shows that Buncombe County’s communities of color, low-income families, and households in formerly redlined neighborhoods experience the greatest energy burden, meaning these households pay a disproportionate share of their already limited income on energy costs,” Blue Horizons Project Manager Sophie Mullinax said. “Neighbor to Neighbor Solar was designed to help alleviate the energy burden borne by these households and to move toward a more just and equitable clean energy future for Buncombe County.”
In its inaugural year, Neighbor to Neighbor funded the installation of solar systems on the homes of 11 families at no cost and for one additional family at a heavily subsidized lower cost. By permanently reducing their utility costs through the solar installations, these households retain more money for crucial family expenses such as food and medication, and will hopefully be less vulnerable to the effects of climate change moving forward.
“I’ve thought about solar for a very long time, did my research, but the prices were just out of my price range,” said Millicent Johnson of Weaverville, a 2021 recipient of Neighbor to Neighbor Solar’s support. “Having solar means more money in my pocket, so I can do other things. … Words can’t even describe how grateful I am for this program.”
With past support including grants from the City of Asheville and Buncombe County along with many individual donations, the innovative crowdfunding component of the campaign raised more than $130,000 in 2021. Fundraising is ongoing and Neighbor to Neighbor Solar intends to install systems on the homes of another 10 to 20 Buncombe County families in 2022 and 2023.
Potential clients will be identified with the help of referrals from local social-service groups, with consideration given to the homes that will benefit the most from this funding based on a variety of factors including household income, sun exposure and roof age.
“Evidenced by the many donations received last year from individuals in support of making solar available to low- and moderate-income families, this campaign energized the broader community around an opportunity to marry climate justice with more solar on more roofs in service of our region’s renewable energy goals,” Mullinax said. “We hope the next iteration of this campaign will continue to grow in success and deepen our impact.”
The new Request for Proposals invites companies specializing in design and installation of solar photovoltaic systems to partner on these efforts. With the intent of supporting the local solar industry, preference will be given to firms located within Buncombe County.
Prospective solar-energy design and installation companies have until March 8, 2022, to submit a bid. The Request for Proposals documents and information can be found HERE. A virtual bidder meeting will be held Feb. 22 at 1:00 p.m. to answer questions about the RFP; interested parties can register HERE.
About Blue Horizons Project:
Blue Horizons Project is working to make a clean-energy future a reality in our region, including through initiatives to reduce barriers and costs to solar energy with programs like Neighbor to Neighbor Solar. These efforts build momentum toward the City of Asheville and Buncombe County’s adopted goals for the entire county to be powered by renewable energy by 2042
Solar energy is clean, makes homes and businesses more climate resilient, and can stimulate local economic growth. Community investments in solar can also reduce energy and economic burdens for low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents, of which communities of color make up a disproportionate share.
About Green Built Alliance:
Green Built Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a 21-year history of advancing sustainable living, green building and climate justice through inspired action, community education and collaborative partnerships. The membership-based nonprofit makes sustainability more accessible locally and regionally through numerous community initiatives and resources.
Its efforts include certifying green residential construction through Green Built Homes; making energy-efficiency and renewable-energy upgrades to local schools and nonprofits through Appalachian Offsets; managing the Blue Horizons Project community clean-energy campaign; weatherizing low-income homes through Energy Savers Network; and educating the public through classes and its annual Green Building Directory magazine.
Learn more or get involved by becoming a member or making a donation at greenbuilt.org.