Archive for February 27th, 2013

NC Taskforce Prepares Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

A new readiness plan aims to help the state of North Carolina prepare for hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in the next decade.  The state’s first Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) readiness plan was created through the ‘NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea (M2S).’

The ‘Chevy Volt’ is one of the more popular ‘Plug-in’ electric vehicles in North Carolina.

There are several plans, looking at PEV use in key regions of the state including the Asheville area and the Triangle, which has the most Electric Vehicles.   The plans focus a lot on education.  Marcy Bauer is the Clean Transportation Extension Specialist at N.C. State.  She says they can’t do anything about the hefty price tags associated with plug-ins, but they can help make life easier for this growing niche market of clean energy drivers.

“Letting them be more able to charge at work at their regular stops for recreation and for commerce really goes a long way to helping them feel more comfortable that they’re not going to experience any inconvenience being stuck without a charge,” Bauer says.

Bauer says latest numbers show there are 700 plug-in electric vehicles registered in North Carolina and 350 public charging stations.  There are 170 private charging stations in the state.

One main part of the plan looks at PEV incentives.  The NC Clean Energy Technology Center produced a paper titled ‘Plug-in Electric Vehicle Incentives and Policy Options for North Carolina.’  Depending on the vehicle, some PEV owners are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.


Credit Leoneda Inge, WUNC

Solar Farm Could Aid MegaPark

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

Two solar farms planned for Montgomery County could provide power to the Heart of North Carolina MegaPark, a major business park proposed for Moore and Montgomery counties.

O2 Energies in Cornelius announced last week that it will build a $15 million, 6.3-megawatt solar farm on the border of Star and Biscoe on a 37-acre site that abuts the MegaPark. The company, which will sell electricity back to Duke Energy, is also planning a second project on 160 acres south of Biscoe.

“I think it’s a positive,” said Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress. “These projects fit right into our concept of the park in the sense that it’s inclusive of contemporary environmental components.”

The 3,000-acre commercial and industrial park would be developed as a green, environmentally sustainable project while minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources. Specific zoning and covenants will protect on-site wetland areas and wildlife habitats, preserve natural aesthetics and promote conservation planning.

“Solar farms being located within close proximity of the park is in keeping with that theme,” Corso said.

The smaller farm would be capable of producing enough electricity to -serve more than 2,500 residences. Construction is scheduled to begin in April and be completed in October.

Meanwhile, a site assessment and feasibility study for the MegaPark is being done by Creative Economic Development Consulting in Elkin.

The study has three major components, said Crystal Morphis, founder and CEO of Creative.

“The first is an assessment of site characteristics, and the majority of that work has been completed. We just started phase two, which is determining the types of companies or industries that may find the park attractive. The final phase is determining the competitive position of the park, particularly in relation to other large parks.”

Morphis said the initial assessment shows that the park is better suited for multiple users rather than a few large users.

“It’s already starting to take form of what it could be,” she said.

Corso said the study is critical because it will determine if the project moves forward or is scrapped.

“We purposely built the plan that way,” he said. “We think it will work, but we don’t know. If the feasibility study says it will work, then we will go forward. The next piece is the design of the park. The final phase is marketing and selling the park. One builds on the other.”

Morphis commended the counties for thinking long term.

“Rural counties like Montgomery and Moore have to have a vision to support economic growth,” she said. “Building an industrial park takes a lot of time. These types of projects can easily take up to a decade to bring some success.”

The MegaPark was announced in August 2010 after the county commissioners in each county signed a resolution of support to endorse moving forward.

The site consists of undeveloped land at the northwestern corner of Moore County and the eastern corner of Montgomery County. It is bounded by N.C. 24-27 and Spies Road and essentially bisected by the new Interstate 73-74, but the majority of the acreage lies in Moore County.

Still, more than one-third of the land lies in Montgomery County, so the entire park is designated Tier 1 for state incentives. That means companies interested in locating there would receive a $12,500-per-new-job tax credit and a 7 percent tax credit for investment in personal property.

Moore County, on the other hand, is classified at the other end of the spectrum at Tier 3 and qualifies for meager assistance from the state.

The park would be built out over 20 years, under current projections.


Written by Ted Natt, Jr, The Pilot

Harnett County farmer uses hog waste to create renewable energy

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


One Harnett County farmer is investing in a new energy source — hog waste.

Farmer Tom Butler of Butler Farms, located an hour southeast of Raleigh, traps methane gas, a byproduct of hog waste, in order to create renewable energy.

“We decided to see if we could take that methane and turn a waste into an asset,”said Butler.

Butler has roughly 8,000 hogs on his farm, which produce about 35,000 gallons of waste per day. The waste can pollute the air and water, and produce the byproduct methane gas.

Though methane is a form of natural gas that can generate heat and electricity, if it escapes, it acts as a greenhouse gas 20 times as destructive as carbon dioxide.

Most hog farmers keep the waste in open pits called lagoons, where the methane escapes. UNC professor Mike Aitken says the farm industry has not adopted technology to deal with this pollution.

“We still manage most waste, including hog waste, in a way that we were dealing with human waste over a century ago. We have never entered the 20th century with animal waste management, never mind the 21st century,” said Aitken.

Butler’s 21st century approach involves trapping the methane gas from the lagoons. By trapping the methane, Butler uses his lagoons to create renewable energy he can sell or use on the farm.

Methane from the lagoons is trapped under tarps and transported through tubes to a generator room. The generator burns the methane to create electricity.

Though this method reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides renewable energy, Butler says many farms do not use the method because of the cost.

Butler’s system costs more than half a million dollars to install, but he says wider use of this technology will lessen its cost.

Butler says he hopes his farm can provide an environmental model for other farms.

“If we can keep from putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, why not? And it’s a commodity you can use here on the farm,” said Butler.

By selling his electricity, Butler makes $28,000 per year and says he expects that profit to grow.


Written by Dan Lane, News 14 Carolina