Solar Farms And LED Snowflakes In July

By: Erin Evans, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina; MPA candidate at Appalachian State University

It feels like only yesterday when my EDF partner, Daniel Brookshire, and I moved to Cherokee, North Carolina to start our work with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Time has flown by and the experience has been absolutely amazing. As we type up our final reports and begin to see the results of cost savings and energy savings for the Tribe, it is hard to believe we did so much in a short period of time.

Visiting a Solar Farm

Daniel and I visited an $8 million dollar solar farm owned by FLS Energy, a company out of Asheville, NC, that leases land from the Blue Ridge Paper Landfill in Haywood County for only $1 per year. FLS Energy signed a 25-year contract with Progress Energy to sell back the solar energy generated by its farm. A tour of the solar farm, as well as a meeting in the FLS office led to further discussions on how the Tribe can use this renewable energy on its reservation. Photovoltaic arrays on tribal buildings and solar thermal power can help the tribe reach its goal of becoming more sustainable and energy efficient.

Snowflakes in July

A favorite project of ours started one hot July day inside an unair-conditioned warehouse, where Daniel and I counted all of the tiny bulbs inside the snowflake decorations that hang from light poles in the winter. Each of the 79 large snowflakes contains 90 little glass bulbs. In addition to saving energy, stepping on and shattering several of the fragile 7W bulbs gave more reason to switch to 1W durable plastic LED bulbs, each of which lasts 60,000 hours. Soon these snowflakes will glow even brighter with LED illumination. The best present is the energy reduction of over 60,000W and energy cost savings of $6,000. Happy holidays in Cherokee.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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