Atop North Carolina’s Mount Sterling is the height of energy innovation. Power. Ample, clean power, with no power lines.

A Duke Energy lineworker came up with the idea. Jeff Fisher, who has spent 34 years taking care of customers in western North Carolina, has been hiking the power line right-of-way up the mountain to make sure that the radio tower for ranger has power.

Duke Energy’s website Illumination, reports the story.

“With as much time as he spends walking in the woods, he has had plenty of opportunity to think about better ways to provide power. One of his ideas removed 3.5 miles of power lines and helped provide reliable power for park rangers to communicate in emergencies. Duke Energy installed a microgrid consisting of solar panels and batteries at the top of Mt. Sterling, one of the highest peaks in the park.”

His idea was a microgrid – solar panels and battery specifically for the ranger tower. A self-contained electric system.

“The microgrid, consisting of 10 kW of solar panels and 95 kWh of zinc-air batteries, provides power for the communications equipment around the clock. Without any sunlight, the fully charged battery could last for 11 days.”

Everybody wins. “By powering the equipment with a microgrid instead of traditional power lines, Duke Energy removed about 50 power poles and the lines to give back 13 acres to the park. Without the need for vegetation management associated with electric rights of way, this land will return to its natural state.”

Check out the story on Duke Energy Illumination.

Want to hike Mount Sterling? It is west-northwest of Asheville. Check it out here.