The Chapel Hill Town Council discussed the implementation of its Climate Action Plan, the future of Franklin Street and concerns about the UNC Cogeneration Facility at a meeting on Wednesday night.
Members of the public raised concerns about coal ash produced by the cogeneration facility at the start of the meeting.
A presentation about the facility by Michael Piehler, UNC professor and director of the Institute for the Environment, showed that, since 2007, coal use at the plant has been reduced by 54 percent.
Energy use intensity at the facility has also dropped by 37 percent since 2003, with the plant on track to meet the 40 percent reduction specified by Gov. Roy Cooper's Executive Order 80.
John Richardson, the Town’s community sustainability manager, also gave an update on the implementation of the Town’s Climate Action Plan.
“Of all the emissions that are produced here in Chapel Hill, 96 percent of those come from just two sectors: building and transportation,” Richardson said.
He proposed four solutions: ‘greening’ the power grid, increasing sustainable transportation and sustainable construction, as well as retrofitting existing buildings. If implemented together, Richardson estimated these measures could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 62 percent.
One ongoing project to reduce emissions is Solarize the Triangle: a community purchasing program for solar energy infrastructure. There are currently over 800 solar installations in Orange County which produce over 26 megawatts, Richardson said.
In comparison, Chapel Hill only has one megawatt of solar energy. Richardson praised rooftop systems but said they cannot produce enough power alone.