Posts Tagged ‘Economic development’

Template Ordinance for Solar Energy Development in North Carolina

Posted on: December 18th, 2013 by shannonhelm No Comments


The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCSC) and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) managed the development of this template ordinance and the organization of the drafting working group. The working group consisted of representatives of the solar industry, local NC planners, State Farm Bureau, N.C. Department of Agriculture, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), N.C. Association of County Commissioners, N.C. League of Municipalities, military, University of North Carolina School of Government, NC Conservation Network, Duke Energy Progress, North Carolina State University Forestry, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and many others. The initial draft was developed by NCSC and NCSEA in May 2013 based on a study of current North Carolina solar ordinances and available state model ordinances. Throughout the summer and fall the working group, often in the form of smaller topic-specific focus groups, worked to improve and update the existing drafts. Additionally NCSC and NCSEA hosted five public forums across the state on the development of the template ordinance. This process led to the template ordinance provided below:


Template Ordinance for Solar Energy Development in North Carolina

Click here for the solar ordinance template (includes executive summary, introduction, 30 stakeholders available for contact, sources of support for local governments, the template ordinance, and appendices of supporting information). The template is also available in Word .doc format without introduction and contact information for editing by local governments.


Letter to Membership

Letter to membership of North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, North Carolina League of Municipalities, and the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association and communities across North Carolina


Report on The Development of the North Carolina Template Solar Ordinance

Click here for a summary of the process of developing the ordinance and the history of changes in each section of the template.


UNC Student Paper on Solar Ordinance

UNC Student research paper entitled Identifying and Confronting Challenges Associated with Solar Ordinance Implementation by UNC Template Solar Ordinance Implementation Study Team.


Click here to read the press release announcing the ordinance.


Governor McCrory proclaims June solar energy month in North Carolina

Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Raleigh, NC– Governor Pat McCrory announced today that he has proclaimed June as Solar Energy Month in North Carolina, stressing the role the growing industry is playing in creating jobs and helping make our state and nation energy independent.

“North Carolina is home to one of the fastest growing solar industries in our nation,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “It is important that we recognize the impact the solar industry is making in our state, not only in terms of being another valuable piece to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, but also the high-quality jobs the industry creates for hardworking North Carolinians.”

Governor McCrory was joined by Strata Solar CEO Markus Wilhelm for the proclamation announcement at Strata Solar in Willow Spring, North Carolina.

The solar energy sector is expanding throughout the state, with solar farms, plants, manufacturing equipment for the solar industry, and workers installing and maintaining both large and small scale solar facilities creating critical jobs for North Carolinians. North Carolina currently has more than 500 companies working in the solar industry, and they employ about 2,000 workers.

Since 2007, more than $743 million has been invested in the solar industry, creating jobs and providing solar photovoltaic development and infrastructure.  Today more than 229 megawatts of solar energy are currently installed throughout North Carolina – sixth in the nation.

Click here to view and download a copy of the proclamation.

Italian solar company puts U.S. operations in Charlotte

Posted on: February 12th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

Siser President Guido Barbi (left) and Vice President Filippo Merlo say Italian investors are interested in getting into the U.S. solar market.

Siser USA, a solar development company established last year to give Italian firm Siser Srl access to the U.S. solar market, has established its headquarters in Charlotte.

The company currently has three employees, but it plans to hire 10 people over the next three years, according to a press release from the Charlotte Chamber.

Guido Barbi, president of the fledgling company, says it chose Charlotte for its “excellent infrastructure, particularly the international airport; an attractive business environment and convenient time zone to Europe; affordable living costs; and high quality of life.” He says Siser also has a partnership with Jetion Solar U.S. Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese panel that has its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte. The chamber says Jetion helped bring the Siser USA here.

Siser’s parent company has installed more than 50 megawatts of solar projects in Italy, Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe during the last five years.

Siser will offer services that include plant design, equipment selection, permitting and license application, financing support, installation and maintenance. Its office is at 11111 Carmel Commons Blvd., Suite 112.


Written bu John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal

The Clean Energy Economy is Expanding in North Carolina

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


North Carolina’s strong commitment to develop a sustainable energy economy offers the cleantech industry the right conditions for success.  State policy includes the first and only Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard in the Southeast and some of the best cleantech tax credits in the country.  These factors, along with our strong workforce, industry leadership, and high quality of life have combined to result in many exciting economic development successes in 2012.

In March, China Ming Yang Wind Power Group, a leading wind turbine manufacturer in China opened its North American Research and Development Center on the Centennial Campus at N.C. State University in Raleigh.  Ming Yang will hire 15 engineers in the next year.

In August, Schletter, a leading manufacturer of solar-power mounting systems announced a production facility in Shelby that will employ 305 workers over the next three years with an average wage of $40,660 per year plus benefits.  The $27 million facility should be at full production by the end of 2016.

In September, ABB opened a new $90 million cable plant in Huntersville.  The cable is suitable for transmitting power from wind and solar farms or upgrading aging transmission lines.  ABB plans to employ 100 employees at the new Huntersville plant.  ABB currently employs close to 2,000 people in eight North Carolina locations.

Also in September, Semprius opened its new solar panel manufacturing facility in Henderson.  In the coming years, the company will employ more than 250 people in manufacturing and assembly of their high concentration photovoltaic solar panels which currently hold the record for solar module efficiency at 33.9 percent.

Semprius grand opening in Hendersonville, N.C.

The state anticipates more cleantech announcements in the months to come.  If you’re interested in learning more about cleantech manufacturing in North Carolina, please reach out to our Economic Development Program Manager, Betsy McCorkle –

Research Triangle: The New Silicon Valley of the Smart Grid?

Posted on: March 9th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

We explore the 60-plus smart grid players and cutting-edge test labs and pilot projects of North Carolina’s Research Triangle.


What’s the “Silicon Valley” of smart grid?

Many would argue that would be Silicon Valley. But North Carolina’s Research Triangle might just might deserve the title.

After all, the Triangle includes nearly 60 companies doing smart grid work in the region, 20 of which are headquartered there, according to a report from Duke University (PDF). Raleigh, the city at the heart of the Triangle, has five smart grid companies headquartered there, more than any other U.S. city except San Francisco with six. (That’s one reason we chose to hold our Networked Grid 2012 conference there this April.)

And while the research didn’t get specific on jobs, the report set a conservative estimate of 3,000 in smart grid for the complex of companies, universities and government-funded projects in the Triangle’s 13-county area. That about matches the San Francisco Bay Area’s estimated 3,030 jobs in power management, energy efficiency and grid technology firms, according to a 2011 report from the Silicon Valley Leadership Forum.

While the Silicon Valley report’s headline smart grid employment figure was 12,560 jobs, 7,450 of those were in “distributed generation,” which included many of the region’s big solar power players, and another 1,850 were in batteries and energy storage. For the sake of argument, however, let’s say Silicon Valley and the Triangle are tied on smart grid jobs. What about smart grid companies?

Silicon Valley is home to some of the industry’s best-known startups (including Silver Spring Networks, TrillianteMeter and Grid Net), along with giants such as CiscoOracleEchelon,Intel and others that have a direct interest in smart grid.

But the Triangle can come back with its own list of hometown smart grid heroes like smart meter giants Elster and Sensus, which employ a combined 1,000 people in the region, along with companies like ABB, GE, Siemens, Cisco, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, and AT&T and Verizon with smart grid operations in the region.

Those are all companies that build lots and lots of hardened gear for utilities and power customers, which means they’re likely to provide good manufacturing jobs for the region that hosts them. Siemens made a $350 million commitment to nearby Charlotte, N.C. when it announced it would open a plant for its newest gas turbine built to more efficiently match the ups and downs of solar and wind power to help balance the grid.

But the companies also investing heavily in IT, both internally and via billions of dollars in acquisitions over the past several years. Itron is doubling its software development workforce in Raleigh to 400 employees. Swiss grid giant ABB has its North American headquarters near Raleigh, and this week launched its $10 million Smart Grid Center of Excellence testing lab in the city, built to put grid gear through simulated extreme weather events to see how they’ll respond.

As for government support, North Carolina brought in more than $600 million in Department of Energy smart grid stimulus grants, putting that money to work in local projects of many descriptions. Many involve Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and Progress Energy, headquartered in Raleigh. Both are big spenders on smart grid projects, from smart meters and grid sensors to complex distribution automation and management systems, such as Duke’s virtual power plant project in Charlotte.

On the smart buildings front, Cisco and Duke Energy are teaming up on the Envision Charlotte project to cut energy use at public and private buildings throughout the city. And let’s not forget, Duke’s bid to acquire Progress could create the country’s largest utility, headquartered in North Carolina, enhancing the region’s appeal to would-be smart grid suitors.

Silicon Valley will continue to claim victories in some of the cutting-edge, ARPA-E-type research going on in smart grid, of course. Local startups in inverters and power electronics (EnphaseTigo Energy), high-efficiency power conversion materials and technology (Transphorm), and digital power management technology (Varentec) have capabilities that could lead to profound changes in the way grids operate.

In the Triangle, Raleigh’s FREEDM Systems Center is working on taking these types of new technologies to real-world testing and integration. Founded in 2008 with an $18.5 million National Science Foundation grant, the North Carolina State University-based center is doing R&D on such technologies as fast EV charging, solid-state transformers, energy storage and digital power grid controls.

Given that FREEDM stands for “Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management,” integrating renewable energy into the grid is an obvious focus of research at the center. Eventually, the organization wants to get a 1-megawatt “green energy hub” system up and running at its headquarters, both to prove the core technology and test out how third-party solar, wind, fuel cell, battery storage, and plug-in vehicle technologies works with it.


Written by  JEFF ST. JOHN: MARCH 8, 2012, GreenTech Media


SunEnergy1 dedicates solar project in Plymouth, N.C.

Posted on: February 2nd, 2012 by shannon No Comments

SunEnergy1’s Kenny Habul dedicated the first phase of his company’s 20-megawatt solar farm in Plymouth this week, saying he will be doing additional projects in northeastern North Carolina.

Habul spoke to a crowd of about 50 at the site Monday.

He said building in the region allows his company to have a significant local impact — making a more important contribution to the tax base than would be possible in more developed communities.

“We also filled the hotels here, we bought a lot of diesel here, we hired local businesses,” he said.

And there are advantages for SunEnergy1 as well. Building the project in the northeast part of the state, which is served by Virginia-based Dominion Power, allows his company to take advantage of selling power to the PJM Interconnect system. PJM serves the mid-Atlantic states and as far west as Ohio, and it allows SunEnergy1 to sell electricity directly to users. North Carolina requires small power producers such as Habul’s company to sell power to utilities for resale, which Habul says severely restricts solar development.

State and local politicians, community leaders and business people from the Charlotte region involved in the project, as well as potential solar investors, were among the attendees at the dedication Monday morning and were part of a larger crowd at the Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth that afternoon. A slideshow of the day’s events can be viewed at right.


Charlotte Business Journal by John Downey, Senior Staff Writer

Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 11:39am EST

N.C. Solar Center and N.C. Dept. of Commerce exhibiting at Solar Power International 2011

Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center and the N.C. Dept. of Commerce are exhibiting together as the State of North Carolina at this year’s Solar Power International tradeshow and conference held in Dallas, Texas from October 17th-20th. There are many exciting new developments in the solar industry particularly in North Carolina.   To highlight these developments, daily in-booth presentations are planned from 11am and 1pm Tuesday – Thursday:

Be sure to come by to visit and learn more: Booth #2937


Tuesday, October 18th


Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster

Smart grid, advanced transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency. North Carolina’s Research Triangle region is a leading center of today’s cleantech revolution. Learn how your company can tap into a cutting-edge initiative that’s bringing together businesses, universities and government to advance the industry in N.C.

Speaker: Wade Fulghum, Assistant Director, Economic Development Partnership, Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, N.C. State University



Growth of Solar in North Carolina

Hear updates on solar policy, industry dynamics and future

Speaker: Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director, NCSEA outlook


Wednesday, October 19th



myDSIRE and Other Customized Services

Learn more about myDSIRE, solar thermal testing, financial modeling and other services offered by the N.C. Solar Center

Speakers: Steve Kalland, Executive Director, N.C. Solar Center; Amanda Vanega, Energy Policy Program Manager, N.C. Solar Center; Betsy McCorkle, Economic Development Coordinator, N.C. Solar Center



Solar Policy Trivia – presented by DSIRE

Attention all policy nerds! Take a break for some fun and networking as we test your knowledge of solar policy!

Speakers: Amanda Vanega and Amy Heinemann, Policy Analyst, N.C. Solar Center


Thursday, October 20th



Solar Energy Workforce Development

Learn about the DOE Solar Instructor Training Network’s “Train the Trainer” Program and the Renewable Energy Diploma Series offered by the N.C. Solar Center.

Speakers: Wade Fulghum, Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, N.C. State University  and Betsy McCorkle, N.C. Solar Center



Annual Updates & Trends in Solar Policy – presented by DSIRE

Missed the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s annual meeting? Come hear the DSIRE team review the year’s solar policy news.

Speaker: Amanda Vanega, N.C. Solar Center


About Solar Power International

Solar Power International (SPI) is North America’s largest, most comprehensive solar power trade show and conference. This annual, business-to-business event was the first of its kind in North America and grows bigger and better every year.

Nearly 24,000 professionals from 125+ countries attend. With one out of five attendees coming from outside the United States, SPI is truly a global event.

In 2011, over 1,200 companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum will exhibit in a space of more than 1 million gross square feet.

Green Job Training in the Southeast

Posted on: August 30th, 2011 by shannon No Comments

Story by:

Recently, it seems that every politician has the exact same top three priorities: Jobs, Jobs and Jobs. Some of those jobs can come in the form of green jobs. Green jobs vary from manufacturing and construction to sales and consulting. Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championing green employment defines a green job as: “paying decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.”

Source: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Employment Security Division, Labor Market Information Section, Green Jobs Study, Spring 2011Distribution of Green Jobs in Tennessee. Source: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Employment Security Division, Labor Market Information Section, Green Jobs Study, Spring 2011 

Sold on green jobs but not sure where to start? Several colleges and organizations offer quick training in the field of your choice and some manufacturing companies partner with neighboring colleges to train future employees. Listed below are just a few upcoming green job training opportunities here in the Southeast:

One-day, weekend, or week-long workshops:

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification is highly recommended for individuals pursuing employment in solar PV, solar thermal, and small wind installation fields. Several Southeastern groups provide the training necessary for the NABCEP tests, as well as other certifications. If you are interested in certification, here are some non-degree training programs to check out:

  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.)- ASU’s 2011 workshop series is in full swing. Most workshops are held on Saturdays. Upcoming sessions include Community Scale Wind, Solar Hot Water, Small Wind, Microhydro, and PV Design, and the National Electric Code.
  • North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (Raleigh, N.C.)- NCSC is hosting week-long classes this fallin solar PV, solar thermal, small wind, and green building.
  • Southface (Atlanta, Ga.) – Southface is a great resource for one-day training in a variety of energy efficiency fields, such as building weatherization and energy auditing.
  • Tennessee Solar Institute (throughout Tenn.) – TSI partnered with colleges across the state in the past year to provide free, week-long training courses in solar PV installation.

There are several local colleges who have semester courses in a variety of green fields. For example, Pellissippi State in Knoxville, Tennessee has a solar PV installation program.

Solar Manufacturing

Recently, Tennessee has attracted several large solar manufacturing facilities. These companies are partnering with local colleges to provide training for future employees.

These are just a few of the green job training opportunities available in our region, and more will develop as the market for renewable energy grows here and elsewhere. The Southeast is expected to be a manufacturing hub for the rest of the nation, according to the Department of Energy’s report 20% Wind Energy by 2030. Solar energy job growth in the Southeast has grown at least 34% just in the past year according to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census. In addition, there’s huge opportunity in the Southeast for energy efficiency improvements. As our nation’s clean energy portfolio grows, the Southeast is primed and ready to be a leader in green manufacturing and services.

This wind farm has a chance

Posted on: April 5th, 2011 by admin No Comments

Story by: Raleigh News & Observer

A proposal to build a 300-megawatt wind energy farm in the northeast corner of North Carolina has so far cleared a major milestone that has long eluded wind power in this state: It has generated no organized opposition.

Indeed, the lack of controversy prompted the N.C. Utilities Commission to cancel a portion of today’s public hearings in Raleigh that had been set aside to hear expert testimony from accountants and engineers.

Instead, the commission will hear from citizens about the proposal to erect up to 150 turbines, each structure nearly 500 feet tall from ground level to outstretched blade tip, on 31 square miles of farmland.

The $600 million Desert Wind Energy Project near Elizabeth City in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties would be the state’s first commercial-scale wind farm and one of the biggest in the nation. It would generate enough electricity to power between 55,000 and 70,000 homes.

Much smaller proposals in this state had been withdrawn in recent years, facing contentious opposition campaigns and public protests. The state legislature attempted to ban large-scale wind projects in the Appalachian Mountains, and coastal Carteret County enacted a moratorium on wind turbines.

Now, after two years of planning, the sprawling Desert Wind Energy Project is still alive and pending before a dozen government agencies, but it has yet to receive its first permit from federal, state or local authorities.

Construction, which would take nearly a year, would employ more than 400 workers, and the project would be operated and maintained by a crew of about 20, earning an average annual wage of $80,000.

Iberdrola, the Spanish company that’s proposing to develop the wind farm, has built more than 40 large wind farms in the U.S. over the past decade. Coastal North Carolina is considered to have some of the choicest wind resources on the East Coast, and Iberdrola is considering other parts of the state for development potential if it can successfully develop its Desert Wind project.

“North Carolina, in particular the area where we’re looking, meets the criteria we look for in any project,” said Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman. “People haven’t seen these before, they’re new to the state, and that inevitably raises questions on what it means to operate a wind farm.”

Not a tourist in sight

Iberdrola, the world’s largest wind developer, first set up wind monitors in 2009 to test wind speeds. It has held community meetings and participated in public hearings.

Unlike previous wind farm developers, Iberdrola has stayed clear of tourist areas and focused on sparsely populated tracts. The scrubland identified for the proposed wind farm is locally known as The Desert.

“If you drive out there you would think you were in Kansas,” said Wayne Harris, director of the region’s Albemarle Economic Development Commission. “It’s just absolutely flat, and there’s nothing but farmland.”

The company, operating in the U.S. through its Oregon-based subsidiary called Atlantic Wind, expects to spend the rest of the year seeking approval from a half-dozen N.C. agencies, including the N.C. Utilities Commission and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Plus, Iberdrola has to get clearance from a pair of federal agencies as well as three branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Iberdrola will have to assure authorities the giant wind turbines don’t interfere with wildlife habitats, bird migration patterns or military flight routes, among other concerns.

The Iberdrola project would benefit from a federal cash grant that would cover 30 percent of the cost. At the earliest, construction would begin late this year and be completed at the end of 2012.

A boon to farmers

Iberdrola does not yet have customers lined up to buy the electricity it plans to generate, but the company is in discussions with Progress Energy, Duke Energy and other regional power suppliers for possible long-term power contracts. The utilities are all required by state law to buy renewable electricity generated by wind, sunshine and agricultural waste.

“Our initial assessment is that the project is economically viable and would provide renewable energy for our customers at a competitive price,” Progress spokesman Mike Hughes said.

Among those benefiting from the project will be farmers who allow Iberdrola to erect the towers on their property. Each tower will generate about $6,000 in annual rental income for the property owner, and the farmers will be able to continue working their land around the structures.

“For the farmers, these wind farms are a tremendous windfall,” Harris said.