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State Energy Office Director Praises High Country for Clean Energy Efforts

120704engergy_dl.jpgBOONE — Larry Shirley, director of the State Energy Office, praised the growing efforts of the High Country region in promoting clean energy.

During a recent visit, Shirley told Appalachian State University students and local business members that when wind energy succeeds in North Carolina “it will happen because of this community and this university.”

Shirley visited Appalachian’s Small Wind Initiative (SWI) Research and Demonstration Facility on Beech Mountain, which features six residential-scale wind systems that can be replicated for home, farm and small business applications.

The SWI, sponsored by the State Energy Office, is a public service program to increase the amount of small-scale wind power used in the southern Appalachian region by providing educational workshops, contacts, and research information on wind power. The SWI also conducts the anemometer loan program to lend, free of charge for one year, wind speed measuring equipment to owners of potential wind sites.

Shirley also attended this past weekend’s 9th Annual Solar Christmas Tree Lighting sponsored by the Appalachian State University Sustainable Energy Society (ASUSES) and the Appalachian Regional Initiative for Sustainable Energy (ARISE).

About 150 citizens attended the event at the Jones House Community Center, where a 30-foot Christmas tree was lit with energy efficient, color LED lights powered by photovoltaic (solar electric) panels. The event featured music, food and door prizes donated by local businesses. ASUSES sponsors the annual event to “raise awareness about the possibilities of clean and independent energy sources in the region while coming together to celebrate our friends, businesses, and community partners,” said the club’s president, Brent Summerville. The solar panel system will remain at the Jones House to power the tree’s lights through the New Year.

Shirley, a former chair of the National Chapter of the Sustainable Energy Society, called Appalachian’s group “the best student chapter in the nation” for its years of consistent hands-on presentations and community workshops.

Shirley encouraged participants to “rejoice in our accomplishments, but prepare because there is much work left to be done.” The community’s efforts in renewable energy and energy efficient building will become even more important in the coming years, he said.

North Carolina has no fossil fuel resources of its own, and spends about $7 billion each year purchasing fuel from out of state. Wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are one proactive way to counter this position facing the economy and environment.

Appalachian’s Energy Center is well-recognized for its contribution in authorship of the North Carolina Energy Plan. The new energy plan, recently revised for the first time since 1992, recommends, among other things, that the state adopt a broad range of energy action items to “implement strategies for a sound economy, energy reliability, and to improve the public health and environmental quality of our state.” Appalachian is noted as a leader in energy issues, continuing to gain recognition for responsible citizenship in the state and would like to thank all members of the community that have helped to support and participate in efforts to build a strong future for North Carolina.

To learn more about these programs, call (828) 262-7333 or visit www.asuses.org, www.wind.appstate.edu or www.energy.appstate.edu.

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Photo Caption: State Energy Office Director Larry Shirley, left, tours Appalachian State University’s Small Wind Initiative Research and Demonstration Facility on Beech Mountain with Cliff Elder, who leases the land to the project. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Scanlin)