SOLAR SUCCESS STORY: Middlesboro Community Center


  • FUNDING: $22,000 from the Appalachian Solar Finance Fund
  • PLACEMENT: A 63-kilowatt solar installation at the Middlesboro Community Center in Middlesboro, KY
  • COST SAVINGS: Annual energy savings of approximately $8,500
  • IMPACT: The solar panels will reduce the cost of running the local pool by nearly 80% and offset nearly all energy costs for the Center.

The Middlesboro Community Center is a pillar of local life in Middlesboro, KY, a city one mile west of the Cumberland Gap in the southeastern part of the state. Now, thanks to a $22,000 grant sub-award from the Appalachian Solar Finance Fund, a 63-kilowatt installation of solar panels will reduce the Center’s energy costs almost entirely. Additional funding support was provided by The Nature Conservancy and Mountain Association.

Middlesboro Mayor Boone Bowling is excited to introduce solar initiatives to the community and participate in the growing movement toward renewable energy in the region. As communities face economic uncertainty and the increasing impacts of climate change, investing in solar technology plays an ever-greater role in reducing carbon emissions and bolstering local economies.

“This is a big leap forward for us,” said Bowling.

The eastern Kentucky-based nonprofit HOMES, Inc. installed the Center’s solar panels, which will produce about 174,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. For HOMES, Inc. Executive Director Seth Long, these projects play an integral role in protecting Appalachian communities. 

“We see solar as a proven solution to help small businesses, homeowners, and local governments survive in economically difficult times,” said Long.

In addition to the long-term benefits to the region and the world, Middlesboro residents will likely be grateful for a more immediate impact: the cost of running the local pool will be reduced by nearly 80%. 

The Appalachian Solar Finance Fund is a regional financial and technical assistance program dedicated to spurring new solar development in coal-impacted counties of Central Appalachia. If you want to bring solar power to your community, learn about the fund works and apply online for grants and technical assistance.

Thank you to The Nature Conservancy’s Cumberland Forest Project Community Fund and Mountain Association, which also supported and contributed funding to this new municipal solar installation in Middlesboro, TN. Video produced by  Nature Conservancy’s Cumberland Forest Project Community Fund.