EPA defines renewable energy (and more specifically "green power") as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible organic plant and waste material (or "biomass"), and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. To be financially competitive, “renewables” take advantage of available financial incentives. Renewable energy/green power currently relies substantially on private sector investors who can take advantage of the available federal tax credit and depreciation for installing renewable systems, and funnel their tax liability towards renewable energy.
As a pilot project to investigate alternatives, the Town partnered with Carrboro Community Solar and the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy in 2012 for a small-scale (5kW) solar electric system. As a separate undertaking, a “Solarize” initiative was run by NextClimate in 2014 and 2015 to encourage community members to install solar electric systems by addressing challenges such as access to information and qualified installers and reduction in "soft costs", or the costs besides the hardware and labor costs for installation.