CCAGP Success Stories

OWASA solar array funded by Orange County Climate Action Grant

The fourth and largest of OWASA’s solar arrays is officially online and producing clean energy at Cane Creek Reservoir.

Photo of Cane Creek Solar ArrayThe Cane Creek Reservoir solar array project was the recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Orange County Climate Action Grant Program. This 350 kW solar array on more than one acre of land will reduce electricity purchased, along with the associated greenhouse gas emissions, to run pumps that send raw water from the reservoir to the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant.

"We are very excited that this program received an Orange County Community Climate Action Grant," said Jamezetta Bedford, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. "This is a program begun by the Board of Commissioners in 2020 to accelerate climate change mitigation actions focused on reducing our carbon footprint and transitioning to clean energy. This solar array is a perfect example of the purpose of the grant program."

“This solar project is just one of the many ways that OWASA is committing to reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Executive Director Todd Taylor. “I am particularly proud that due to the creative public-private partnership used to develop our solar projects, they will financially break even in year one of their operations. They are a win-win for the environment and our customers."

Habitat for Humanity Solar Panels

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County celebrated the dedication of another new home with solar panels installed on it. Habitat for Humanity home with solar panels This work was supported by our Community Climate Action Grant program, which provided $95,000 in grant funding to Habitat Humanity in 2021 to install solar on 10 new habitat homes.  

These panels will reduce energy costs for homeowners and lower carbon emissions in Orange County. Habitat received an additional $100,000 in grant funding from the Community Climate Action Grant program in 2023 to continue to install solar on habitat homes being built in Orange County.

Neighborhood Energy Resiliency Project (NERP)

The Orange County Community Climate Action Grant Program is currently funding a program called the Neighborhood Energy Resiliency Project (NERP) which is being led by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).  The program aims to provide energy retrofits and repairs to low income homeowners in Carrboro, NC that will increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gasses and save money on energy bills.

NERPThe program begins with home assessments, which involve identifying energy efficiency upgrades and repairs with residents. NCSEA is using neighborhood canvassing and personal referrals to reach residents and help spread the word about the program.   The Association has benefited from working with Tamara Sanders, a community organizer from the neighborhood who NCSEA says has been able to work directly with the residents and help build rapport with the larger team.

 In the work that the association has done, NCSEA has found it more impactful to begin with air sealing and insulation to make homes more energy efficient. According to Daniel Pate, NCSEA’s Energy Program Manager, “Sealing air leaks in areas such as duct work and plumbing penetrations can stop conditioned air from escaping.”  Pate also says: “After air sealing, ensuring that there is insulation that is in working condition and properly installed is the next critical step to having an energy efficient home.” While air sealing is a “top priority” for the project, the team has also looked into gutter installation and HVAC system repairs or tuning.

NCSEA has also helped homeowners qualify for a larger government program called the North Carolina Weatherization Assistance Program (NCWAP) which offers weatherization services to homes that are 200% below the federal poverty level.  “Some homes need repairs first in order to qualify for the program”, which, according to Pate, NCSEA hopes to give support for.

Community member have reacted positively overall to the project, with emotions ranging from “immense gratitude and absolute elation to the point of tears” according to Pate. One of those homeowners, Lily Atwater, who lives on Glosson Circle in Carrboro, says, “I have been here at least 50 years and never had gutters, and now I have them so water can stop draining under my house. The people that came have been very professional, quite kind, and very nice to the older people – it’s such a good program and I hope it continues.”

The program was recently featured on WUNC Public Radio and the Energy News Network!