Posts Tagged ‘Renewable Energy’

NC GreenPower Celebrates 10 Years Of Increasing Access To Renewable Energy

Posted on: February 6th, 2014 by shannonhelm

 

Renewable energy generators have channeled hundreds of millions of kilowatt hours into the North Carolina power grid. That’s since the NC GreenPower program was founded 10 years ago.

The initiative collects donations from companies, citizens and utility customers to buy renewable energy and diversify the state’s power grid.

N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center Director Steve Kalland is on the board for NC GreenPower. He said the program has also helped utilities warm up to renewable power providers.

“In essence, NC Green Power was the training wheels for the North Carolina Renewable energy market,” Kalland said.

He said the program also laid the groundwork for utilities to actually give renewable resources, like solar power, a chance.

“Solar was, you know, much more expensive 10 years ago than it is today,” Kalland said. “And at that time, there wasn’t a lot of it that went onto the grid. There wasn’t a lot of experience with things like how to interconnect renewable resources.”

Kalland said technological advances have helped make solar energy cheaper over time, but it was NC GreenPower that helped establish rules for home and industrial solar producers to connect with the grid. This standardization made solar energy more accessible as a power resource.

 

WUNC

Push to end NC’s renewable energy program ends in NC House committee

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

RALEIGH — The push to terminate North Carolina’s renewables program is over for the foreseeable future after a House committee in the state legislature defeated the measure with the help of key Republicans.

The vote in Raleigh was closely watched by national conservative organizations that had targeted North Carolina as the first domino in a national strategy of toppling green-energy policies in more than two dozen states.

Sixteen conservative organizations – including the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute – made a final push for North Carolina’s bill this week with a letter urging lawmakers that it was their “moral obligation” to oppose government programs that interfere with free markets.

Despite the presence of a pair of Americans for Prosperity representatives on hand to remind lawmakers that “other states are watching,” the bill was defeated with the help of a half-dozen Republicans, including three of the most powerful legislators in the state House.

The Committee on Public Utilities and Energy voted 18-13 on Wednesday to kill the proposal that would have ended the state’s 6-year-old policy of subsidizing solar farms and other forms of renewable energy.

After the vote, Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina director for the Arlington, Va.-based Americans for Prosperity, could barely contain his anger.

“This was a horrible vote by Republicans, and they need to be held accountable,” Woodhouse said. “And that’s all I’m going to say.”

Those who voted against ending the state’s renewables program included longtime supporters of solar power and other clean technologies. Also voting against were those who are wary of dismantling a complex state policy, which had taken months to negotiate, after a brief 30-minute debate.

But the nays also included Republicans whose districts have recruited businesses and added jobs during a severe economic downturn as a result of the program. Since its adoption in 2007, the state’s renewables policy has turned North Carolina into the nation’s fifth-largest developer of solar energy.

“It was based off local issues back home,” Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who also chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, said after the vote. “I would have had a difficult time talking to a CEO who just brought 300 jobs to Cleveland County [and telling him] that I’m going to vote to eliminate this program that justified their investment.”

Other Republican leaders voting against the bill were Conference Leader Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County and Wake County’s Nelson Dollar, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Samuelson said she had expected the vote to go either way by a single vote.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” she said, “and we were only getting one side of it.”

 

Hager’s fight for the bill

The chairman of the Public Utilities Committee, Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, has met resistance on the bill ever since he introduced it two months ago. He delayed scheduling votes and several times watered down the proposal to make it more palatable.

With Wednesday’s vote taking place in a committee Hager runs as chairman, where he can schedule or withhold colleague’s bills, his legislation was thought to have the equivalent of a home-field advantage.

Hager, a former engineer for Duke Energy, said the bill would end a state policy of subsidies for industries that will never be able to compete with natural gas and nuclear power. He said the state is achieving little but increasing utility bills to subsidize developers of alternative energy.

“Do you want your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids paying a subsidy that lasts forever?” Hager asked members of his committee. “If you feed the bears, they don’t know how to look for food anywhere else.”

State law requires that at least 12.5 percent of retail power sales of electric utilities come from renewables and energy efficiency programs by 2021. Hager suggested shrinking the mandate to 3 percent, then said he could live with a 6 percent cap.

In Wednesday’s version, Hager agreed to keep the standard at 12.5 percent, to be dropped to zero in 2021. Under that version, Duke Energy and others could let their existing energy contracts run out and wouldn’t have to renew deals to buy or generate more electricity from solar, wind, biomass or offset by conservation programs.

Hager left the meeting room immediately after the vote and wasn’t available for comment.

 

Constituent concerns

Moore said he almost always votes with Hager, but told his colleague before the committee meeting that he could not support the elimination of the state’s renewable energy policy. His district includes a $27 million manufacturing facility in Shelby being developed by Schletter, an Arizona company that makes mounts and brackets for solar farms.

Moore said the expansion of solar farms is popular with farmers in his district and with his local chamber of commerce.

Before the vote, John Morrison, chief operating officer for Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar, told the committee his company is the fourth-largest solar developer in the nation, thanks to the state’s policy.

He also said that the cost of solar power has dropped significantly in recent years, and noted that the subsidy in electricity rates for solar is almost down to zero for solar farms now under development.

 

Power company costs

The 2007 state law that requires renewables allows electric utilities to collect the costs from customers, just as the utilities recover their costs for building transmission lines and power plants.

Currently Duke Energy residential customers pay 22 cents a month, while Progress Energy residential customers pay 42 cents a month, to subsidize renewables.

Duke’s commercial customers pay $3.29 a month, and Progress’s commercial customers pay $7.28 a month.

Duke’s industrial customers pay $20.29, and Progress’s pay $34.32 a month.

These subsidies represent a premium paid to make the projects profitable.

The program has catapulted solar farms to the forefront of the state’s energy landscape, but electricity produced from wind, poultry waste and swine waste is still in the early stages.

Democratic Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham, who voted against Hager’s bill, said he was pleased by the wide margin of defeat.

“It is the first victory in three years that I’ve had,” Luebke said. “It was refreshing to see a bipartisan majority.”

 

Written by: Raleigh News & Observer

N.C. Solar Center staff member presented at Capitol Hill’s Bioenergy Day

Posted on: March 21st, 2012 by shannon No Comments

Isaac Panzarella, Clean Power and Efficiency Manager at the North Carolina Solar Center, is presenting on the state of bioenergy in the United States today, highlighting research and technology deployment projects happening around the country in the emerging biofuels industry and expanding biomass heat and power market.  “There are many potential bioenergy opportunities that require further planning and infrastructure development, while there are also many current bioenergy practices applied in agriculture, industry and transportation today that offer financially viable clean and domestic energy solutions at high energy and economic efficiencies.”  In his role as Director of the US DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC), Mr. Panzarella provides knowledge and expertise to help companies and institutions whom are taking a leadership role by investing in highly efficient biomass combined heat and power systems.  The progress in this area has shown most important thing is to keep making progress in bioenergy, with the awareness that the pace of development will quicken with every proven advance in process or technology.

Learn more about the status of bioenergy in the United States

Review the full agenda of Bioenergy day on Capital Hill

IREC’s 2011 Updates and Trends Annual Report released

Posted on: November 2nd, 2011 by shannon

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC’s) 2011 Updates & Trends Annual Report was released on October 17, 2011 in Dallas, Texas – take a peak and learn more about the latest in net metering, state policies and incentives (prepared by the DSIRE staff!), solar installation trends and other program areas – Happy reading!

 

Click here to download the Report as a PDF

New NCSU Solar House hours of operation

Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by shannon

After briefly being closed due to state budget cuts, the NCSU Solar House is now back open on a limited schedule. The house is open to the public and for scheduled group tours.  To schedule a group tour, please call 919-515-7085.

Hours of operation are:

Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 2:30pm

 

Come and pay us a visit and learn more about renewable energy technologies!

New updates for DSIRE

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

The new, redesigned DSIRE Solar Policy Guide was just launched this week. The DSIRE Solar Policy Guide describes policy options adopted by state and local governments to encourage solar deployment, discusses status and trends of individual policies, provides examples of specific programs, and links to additional sources of information. This guide is meant to serve as a living document and will be updated quarterly to reflect new solar policy initiatives, trends, and resources.

This guide was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments“. The DOE guide focuses on policies and program options that are important to the development of a local market for solar. These two guides were designed to be complementary and address policy options relevant to both local and state governments.

In addition, the energy policy program at the N.C. Solar Center in collaboration with NREL and the DOE, created and launched the new DSIRE search widget. The DSIRE search widget can easily be incorporated into web sites and blogs. It allows your site’s users or your blog’s audience to search the DSIRE database for incentives in any U.S. state or territory.

Proposal would double state’s solar energy output

Posted on: March 25th, 2011 by admin No Comments

Story by: John Murawski, Raleigh N&O (reposted)

 

Solar energy has been far and away the most successful of the renewable resources power companies have developed in North Carolina since the state’s 2007 energy law required an increase in renewables and conservation.

Now advocates are pushing to double the state’s mandated solar output by electric utilities, saying promoting solar power also promotes jobs needed to install and maintain solar facilities.

A bill introduced Monday in the General Assembly raises the solar requirement from 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent of all retail electricity sold by 2018. If the mandate is not lifted, utility companies are likely to stop at 0.2 percent for solar power, which is one of the most expensive forms of green energy.

The bill’s sponsors are all mostly Republicans in the state House of Representatives: Tom Murry of Wake County, Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County, Chuck McGrady of Henderson County and Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County. The lone Democratic sponsor is James Crawford Jr. of Granville and Vance counties.

But the state’s two leading utility companies, Duke Energy and Progress Energy, don’t support making changes to the 2007 law so soon after its passage.

“The most efficient way to do this is to stick with the policy you’ve developed,” said Progress spokesman Mike Hughes. “We and others have made long-term investments based on the state’s policy.”

Duke Energy and Progress Energy are ahead of the current schedule on solar development. Not only have the two power companies passed their 2011 targets, as set in the 2007 energy law, but they are soon expected to pass their 2015 targets.

Raleigh-based Progress and Charlotte-based Duke have developed industrial-scale solar energy farms as well as household rooftop solar projects throughout the state.

According to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, a trade group for the renewable industry, the 2007 law had resulted in the development of nearly 60 megawatts of solar power in North Carolina. Three-fourths of the electricity comes from 20 projects that generate between 1 megawatt and 2 megawatts of electricity.

State energy policy allows the utilities to recover the cost of renewables and conservation projects through customers rates. Thus long-term contracts with solar farms, as well as incentives paid to customers to buy energy-efficient appliances, are covered by monthly bills all customers pay, just as costs for power plants, transmission lines, bucket trucks and other utility expenses.

Progress, for example, pays customers up to $10,000 for installing rooftop solar panels on their homes. The program was approved in November by the N.C. Utilities Commission.

The Progress SunSense program pays customers an upfront rebate of $1,000 per kilowatt capacity, depending on the size of the solar array, with the total rebate ranging between $2,000 and $10,000.

As part of the SunSense program, Progress is also offering a monthly bill credit ranging from $9 to $45, depending on the size of the solar array.

Duke Energy’s solar projects include a 8.5M megawatt household rooftop program that will install solar panels on customers’ homes, essentially creating mini power plants in neighborhoods throughout the company’s service area.

Duke is also buying electricity from SunEdison’s 15.5 megawatt solar farm in Davidson County

 

Real Jobs. Real Progress. Real Solar

Posted on: March 24th, 2011 by shannonhelm No Comments

PITTSBORO – Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) and the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University collaborated to conduct an entire day devoted to education and outreach around solar technologies. The event was entitled “Real Jobs. Real Progress. Real Solar.” CCCC hosted this informational event on March 23rd at the Chatham County Campus. The North Carolina Solar Center is one of nine regional trainers providing train-the-trainer program for community college instructors in solar technologies and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Instructor Training Network.

The public was invited to come and enjoy the workshops and activities geared to help people learn more about solar power technology – the conversion of sunlight into electrical power – and what it can mean to them. All activities and workshops were free.

“The use of solar power is growing rapidly in North Carolina and the nation,” said Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant. “CCCC is partnering with major players in the field to provide training and to educate the public about the tremendous potential of this power source and how it can impact their lives.”

The college has earned the nickname “Green Central” for its leadership in preparing the workforce for the growing green economy. In 2010, it also opened three new energy-efficient, LEED-certified buildings at its Chatham Campus and Siler City Center.

The N.C. Solar Center is a regional and national leader in training renewable energy and energy efficiency professionals. The U.S. DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network supports the professional development of instructors who train the nation’s solar workforce on photovoltaic (PV) and solar heating and cooling (SHC) installations.

During the Real Solar event, CCCC announced its partnership with FLS Energy for the installation of solar panel arrays on the roofs of Buildings 1 and 2 at the Chatham Campus.

FLS Energy will design, install, own and maintain the rooftop system consisting of 550 Suniva solar collectors. The environmentally clean project will generate 132 kW of electricity. FLS intends to sell the power to Progress Energy’s grid and fund the project from the available tax credits and Renewable Energy Credits for the system. The college will benefit by receiving an annual lease payment for the use of the roof space. The college also has the option to purchase the system after seven years.

For photos from the event, please check our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/NCSolarCenter