Daniel Gross' article in Slate entitled The Other Sunshine State:North Caralina, proclaims that North Carolina has come out of the blue to capture the title of forth leading solar capacity state in the nation.
The solar industry has gained so much power in the state that when Rep. Mike Hager tried to initiate a bill to repeal the state's progressive Renewable Portfolio Standards it died in the energy committee he chairs. ALEC has been pushing such efforts nation-wide, and even succeeded in Ohio where Governor Kasich just signed a bill freezing the state's RPS for two years. What a happy and funny victory that progressive solar industry forces are just too strong to succumb to such regressive ALEC backed backsliding. Ho, ho, ho.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, notes that last year, North Carolina added 335 megawatts of capacity—the third-best tally of any state in the country. With a total of 592 megawatts of solar capacity installed, North Carolina ranks fourth among the 50 states. So far this year, according to SNL Energy, North Carolina ranks second in the number of solar farms under construction, behind only California.
Maybe we can get North Carolina to send out progressive solar missionaries to the more backward states to help bring them into the 21st century? (Humor alert.)
How did such North Carolina pull of such an audacious advance?
Well, in addition to being a state widely admired for leading the nation on a wide variety of progressive issues, North Carolina's praiseworthy advance in solar capacity seems to have been driven by three factors.
First off, in 2007, North Carolina passed an extremely modest renewable portfolio standard, declaring that within five years, utilities must have ensured that 12.5 percent of the electricity they supply derives from renewable sources. (By contrast, California’s three largest utilities are now at about 23 percent renewables.) Like many other states, North Carolina has a renewable energy tax credit that helps bring down the cost of production. But according to Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, North Carolina’s regulatory scheme had an important wrinkle. The utilities decided to offer a deal to renewable developers: If they could develop renewable energy facilities with capacities below 5 megawatts and deliver the power below a specified cost, the utilities would agree to buy the output. Figuring that not many developers would be able to pull this off, the utilities didn’t put a cap on the program.That small wrinkle opened a door that, combined with a renewable energy tax credit, were sufficient to take what was otherwise a small market and carve out a space for entrepreneurs to jump in and compete on price and quality,” Urlaub says.
As the price of solar panels plummeted 75% over the last four years 4.99-megawatt small scale solar farms started "popping up" across the "North Carolina countryside."
I can't help but insert "Good Day Sunshine" here - what is becoming one of our signature song for "Good News" solar articles which leaving with that Happy HoundDog feeling. Extra biscuits for everyone! Hurrah!'
A second powerful force came from the West Coast. North Carolina has aggressively courted big technology companies to locate data centers in the state. But many of these firms have their own agendas when it comes to energy: They want to be powered by renewable energy produced close by. So when Apple built its huge data center in Maiden, it also constructed its own 20-megawatt farm on 100 acres nearby; it has since added 20 megawatts of solar in Conover. Google, which had already spent $600 million on a data center in Lenoir, North Carolina, said it would invest another $600 million in its facilities. But Google and other companies encouraged Duke Energy to push for a so-called Green Source Rider. Under the rider, if companies pay the utility a rate slightly above the usual fee, the utility will either build renewable energy capacity itself or make deals with third-party suppliers. That has stimulated more construction. ...Hello! Can we talk? Hey you other states rolling back or freezing state RPS by succumbing to back room ALEC backed pressures, you may want to rethink this. And, hey sleeping media in Ohio, please think about asking John Kasich why he thinks Ohio already has so many surplus jobs and economic growth that he thinks the people of Ohio can afford to pass up these kinds of opportunities.
The SEIA says $787 million was invested in solar plants in the state last year, and Urlaub says 570 green energy firms in the state employ 18,400 people.
I wish I hadn't used up all my fair use paragraphs, so I could tell you more about a number of major new projects undertaken by Duke Energy Renewable, and SunEnergy1 to build solar farms, and also the big deal it has just closed with "three academic institutions based in Washington, D.C. (American University, George Washington University, and George Washington University Hospital), to supply them with some 52 megawatts of capacity to be provided by three plants to be constructed in the state."
You'll have to read the original for this extra bonus good news.
So let's have all kogs join hands and sing along with our other favorite "Good Solar News" signatury son "Here Comes the Sun!
I am reminded of that famous old progressive anthem, "If You Can Make It in North Carolina, You Can Make It Anywhere!"
Have a bright and sunny day kogs!
Woof, woof, aaaaaawwwwhhhhhhhhoooooooooooo!