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Apex joins the fight against climate change, commits to a clean-energy future

Solar panels were installed at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility in 2012. The 5,918 solar panels can generate enough energy to power 174 homes. The Town of Apex would like state assistance to install a similar project.
Solar panels were installed at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility in 2012. The 5,918 solar panels can generate enough energy to power 174 homes. The Town of Apex would like state assistance to install a similar project. TOWN OF CARY

More than a year after Wake County commissioners set county goals to fight climate change, a local town has followed suit.

The Apex Town Council adopted two resolutions Tuesday night members say will guide the town to better energy efficiency during the next 30 years.

One supports the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which nations committed to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. signed on under President Barack Obama, but President Donald Trump subsequently withdrew the country from the agreement.

The other resolution sets the goal of having the town achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Clean energy comes from renewable, zero-emissions sources like solar and wind.

“We have a responsibility, not just to our town but to the world,” said Councilman Bill Jensen, who sponsored the resolutions. “And if we can do it in an economic way, that’s what we should do. We should head down that path. And I think that is what these resolutions are saying.”

Both resolutions were adopted on 4-1 votes, with Councilman Wesley Moyer dissenting.

Moyer, who said he believes in climate change, opposed them because of their “unknown financial cost.”

Last summer, the council earmarked $500,000 to install solar panels on town buildings. A planned maintenance facility also will be outfitted with solar panels and built to higher energy-efficiency standards.

The Sierra Club has lobbied governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Harvey Richmond, an Apex resident and the Sierra Club Capital Group’s conservation co-chair, spoke before the council voted.

“Apex has taken a bold step not only by declaring its concern over climate change but by committing to action that will help combat it,” Richmond said. “By itself, one town makes only a small difference in fighting climate change, but Apex is now part of a worldwide community of leaders who are leading the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean, renewable energy economy.”

Orange and Chatham counties, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough are among Triangle governments that have pledged support for the Paris Agreement and have established clean-energy goals. Nationally, about 100 local governments have adopted similar resolutions, according to the Sierra Club.

Cary hasn’t joined the movement with its own resolution. But the town has taken steps to produce clean energy, including a solar farm at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht has said nonpartisan governing bodies risk turning off voters by weighing in on controversial, partisan issues.

Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.
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