Black Mountain will install solar panels on the roof of the Carver Center

Black Mountain plans to add solar panels to the roof of the Carver Center in the coming weeks, a project that should pay off and eventually provide free power.

“I think we should have them on every building in the city,” said City Council member Pam King, who is a strong advocate for the city’s use of renewable energy. “We’re doing it as fast as we can. It’s just a matter of funding. It’s really paying off. It’s really an investment.”

Previously the headquarters of the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Carver Center has served in recent years as the Black Mountain Montessori School.

The project is worth around $100,000, with payback over the next 10 years, according to city manager Josh Harrold. He said that if everything goes as planned, in 10 years the city will be using free energy.

“We’ve had this in the budget all year this year, and we haven’t started the project yet, but it should start probably in the next two weeks,” Harrold said.

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

The work will be carried out by Renu Energy Solutions, a private contractor for the project. On its website, Renu advertises that 74% of North Carolina rooftops are ideal candidates for solar panels.

“Renu is thrilled to be partnering with the City of Black Mountain,” said Renu Principal Consultant Matthew Culley. “This project demonstrates the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability and also makes financial sense.”

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

Harrold said the 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 the cost, profitability and size of the system itself.

“Public safety and public works were more expensive than Carver, so we ended up bringing in Carver as a pilot to see how it would work out,” Harrold said.

When the county began a similar analysis, Harrold said Black Mountain joined to keep the funds as part of a “cooperative effort.”

Harrold said the solar panels should be operational by the end of the summer.

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

King said adding solar panels to more municipal buildings is a viable option for the future. Encouraging several other green energy projects in the city, King said prioritizing electric vehicles and reducing waste would benefit city 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. “You need a variety of options to make it work for everyone.”

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Contact him at 828-230-3324 or [email protected] Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.