Patterson School Going Solar!

LENOIR, NC (June 10, 2016)…Community solar for Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation members in Caldwell County is advancing thanks to a partnership between the cooperative and the Patterson School Foundation.

Construction could soon begin on the cooperative’s community solar garden on nearly an acre of land leased from Patterson School Foundation located on the north side of Hwy 268. Blue Ridge is working closely with the Caldwell County Planning and Development department to fully comply with the recently adopted Solar Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance and obtain a conditional use permit for the site.

Community solar gardens are ideal for offering access to solar energy for consumers who cannot—or do not wish—to install rooftop solar panels due to factors such as high upfront cost or maintenance concerns. While renewable energy currently makes up six percent of Blue Ridge Electric’s power supply and that percentage is growing, community solar gardens will empower cooperative members to directly choose to invest in receiving a greater portion of their electricity from solar resources.

The cooperative is planning to construct four community solar gardens this fall, each a 100 kW (kilowatt) array consisting of 350 ground mounted solar panels that will cumulatively power 50 average households. Pricing options are currently being developed for subscribing to the energy rights of one or more solar panels.

Patterson School Foundation and Blue Ridge Electric also envision the community solar garden providing a valuable educational benefit to Patterson retreat participants and to Caldwell County students engaged in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Agriculture and Math) curriculum there.

Blue Ridge Electric is committed to making its members’ lives better by offering innovative and powerful solutions such as community solar. The cooperative serves some 74,000 members. For more information, visit


While Blue Ridge Electric’s community solar garden will be much larger than this residential solar array, this photo provides an idea of the look of a ground mounted solar facility. This array is owned by Blue Ridge Electric employee Jason Smith, senior communications analyst, who came to Blue Ridge after working for a SC company as chief operating officer, managing construction and renewable energy solutions. (Photo description provided by Blue Ridge Electric and photo provided by the Smith Family.)