Front Porch Blog

Boone residents and students celebrate a win in the fight for solar energy!

New River Light and Power abandoned a proposed $99 annual fee for solar customers

The community of Boone, North Carolina, celebrated a small victory when the local utility, New River Light and Power, announced in March it would rescind its proposed annual $99 fee for solar customers! After catching wind of New River’s plans, we mobilized quickly and partnered with the Climate Action Collaborative at Appalachian State by collecting hundreds of signatures for a petition to let the utility know how unpopular its proposal was.

With this victory, residents and businesses in Boone with students and faculty of Appalachian State University, have made it clear that they see homegrown, customer-owned solar as a critical part of achieving the town and university’s climate goals.

Last year, the Boone Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to address the challenges that climate change presents to the town and the High Country region. Boone’s Community Climate Action Plan calls for community-wide climate neutrality by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2040. New River must get in line with the climate action plan by getting hip to the benefits of solar energy!

Want to be involved with shaping the town’s climate action plan? Fill out the Boone Community Climate Opinion Survey!

Photo courtesy of PowerScout

Only 12 residents in Boone have installed solar panels on their properties, which we believe is due to New River’s unfriendly policies toward solar customers. Appalachian Voices and others are continuing to urge New River to create policies that encourage rather than discourage customer-owned solar power generation. For instance, when customers produce energy from their solar panels, New River doesn’t compensate them fairly with its “buy-all, sell-all” program. Activists are calling on New River to enact net metering, which allows solar customers to get full credit for the energy they generate and reimburse them for the extra energy they produce, which offsets future energy consumption.

In addition to net metering, residents are calling on New River to initiate a stakeholder process to gather public input on any new customer-owned solar policy the utility is considering. They also want the utility to develop a new solar policy that is simple, straightforward and easy to understand for customers wanting to install solar on their property.

These demands are outlined in a new petition that also calls on New River to structure any new policy so that it supports the climate and clean energy goals set by Boone, Appalachian State University and the state of North Carolina. If you’re a resident of Boone, and/or a student, staff or faculty member at Appalachian State University, sign the petition today!

If you already signed it, thank you! If you feel passionate about this issue and want to get more involved by writing a letter to the editor, attending a meeting, or sharing your story, get in touch with us!

Jen Lawhorne is a digital campaign coordinator with Appalachian Voices. She likes to daydream about faraway places, whip up delicious recipes, ride bikes, and make most of her activities extra challenging by wrangling a toddler and dog with her.


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