Smoky Mountains National Park, go greener

Smoky Mountains National Park, go greener

Green plans in the greenest place

Each day more and more companies are starting up clean energy plans. Now it is time for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service to make their move. In their effort to reduce the carbon footprint of some of greenest and most scenic places in the country, Smokies park officials have come across a plan that includes the installation of solar panels along the parkway.

The project consist in installing array of solar panels and a zinc-air battery in the remote Mount Sterling area of Haywood County. This will replace the 30-foot-wide, 3.5-mile overhead power line that extends from the park boundary at Mount Sterling Road/N.C. 284 to the Mount Sterling Lookout Tower. The Duke Energy is financing this less-than-$1 million project and it should be finished by the end of the year. As a consequence of this measure, the park’s communication system will be operating off the power grid. “It’s economical, it’s a good for the environment and will give the park a more reliable source of energy than what they’re getting now,” said Randy Wheeless, spokesman for Duke Energy.

More green projects at the Smokies

Solar panels have also been installed at the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg, and at the Clingmans Dome radio tower. Other park areas, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, are also increasing its energy efficiency. Here, they are not only including solar panels, but they are also changing their administration building lights into more efficient LEDs, or converting pickup trucks and shuttle buses to run on propane.

Installing more solar arrays is part of an overall move to make the park more energy efficient. Recent sustainability measures include green practices in the the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee. This new building which includes roof shingles made of recycled materials and high-efficiency light fixtures that adjust automatically with the change in light entering the building.

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