Asheville, North Carolina

T he City of Asheville, the county seat of Buncombe County, N.C., is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers. With a year-round pop- ulation of approximately 92,000, Asheville’s economy is largely tourist-based and the city is internationally known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture, including the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence, and the vast, 19th-century Biltmore Estate, which displays artwork by masters like Renoir. The Central Business District is filled with independent restaurants and shops, galleries and museums. In the near- by River Arts District, former factory build- ings house many artists' studios. Always a progressive and forward-thinking communi- ty, the City of Asheville claims a clear focus on sustainability and the development of a green economy. Its vision is defined in its Sustainability Management Plan: “Making decisions that balance the values of envi- ronmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic vitality to meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations.” Its programs are administered by the Office of Sustainability, which was created in 2008 to advance the City’s efforts in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. The Office “works with all departments across the City to in- tegrate sustainable design, technology, and practice into municipal operations, infra- structure, and services.” In 2008, Asheville adopted a carbon reduc- tion goal for municipal operations of 80 percent by 2050, and, according to Sustain- ability Officer, Amber Weaver, Asheville’s City Council recently adopted a resolution pro- viding for 100 percent renewable energy for the City’s municipal operations by the year 2030. In order to determine what options are available to achieve that goal, and which ones are acceptable to the community at large, Buncombe County, the City of Ashe- ville, and Duke Energy Progress, the local energy utility, established the Energy Inno- vation Task Force (EITF) to research and rec- ommend energy efficiency and demand-side management programs. “The Energy Innovation Task Force (EITF) has two goals; first, to avoid or delay the con- struction of an additional fossil fuel-pow- ered combustion turbine at the Asheville plant, and secondly, to transition Western North Carolina to a cleaner, more affordable, AT A GLANCE ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA WHAT: A city of 92,000 WHERE: At the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers WEBSITE: