Archive for May, 2012

Let’s be Friends!

Posted on: May 31st, 2012 by shannon No Comments

Friends of the NC Solar Center logo

The Friends of the N.C. Solar Center is a campaign to support the N.C. Solar Center’s mission of advancing clean energy for a sustainable economy.  Achieving a sustainable future requires securing the work done by the N.C. Solar Center, so that we can better serve industry and the citizens of North Carolina and beyond.  Individuals, private firms, and non-profit organizations are invited to support the N.C. Solar Center (through the N.C. State Engineering Foundation) and its initiatives. We invite you to learn more about the benefits of the program, and thank you for considering becoming a Friend of the N.C. Solar Center!

Thank you to our current Friends, who have graciously supported the N.C. Solar Center’s mission!

To learn more and to become a Friend, visit our Make A Gift page

Questions? Contact Shannon Helm at

$7M solar farm planned in Sanford

Posted on: May 30th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

A Pennsylvania developer aims to build a $7 million solar farm in Sanford, according to documents it filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission earlier this week.

The 2-megawatt facility at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Garden Street should be up and running by October if approved by the agency, developer Community Energy Inc. wrote in its application.

Site owner Brick Capital Community Development expects to lease the site to Community Energy for 25 years, according to Kate Rumely, the group’s executive director. It plans to use the revenue to fund its projects for disabled and low-income residents.

Community Energy Inc. aims to build a $7 million solar farm in Sanford.

Two megawatts of capacity is more than 200 residential rooftop solar arrays, given that those almost always have less than 10 kilowatts of capacity. About 275 megawatts of solar generating capacity was either installed or in the development process across the state as of early March, according to the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.

N.C. Solar Center Offers New Training Programs for building analysts, green associates, educators

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 by shannon No Comments

BPI, LEED GA, SIS, Oh my! The training programs team has been busy creating an alphabet soup of workshops for anyone with an interest in green energy. After all, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry isn’t just about installers and energy raters. The industry can only thrive when there are financial analysts, accountants, sales people, educators and a host of other job descriptions that exist in other sectors of the economy.

In May, 15 professionals completed the Certificate in Renewable Energy Management (CREM). This program aims to help businesses in individuals navigate the complexities of renewable energy project development and management. The 40 credit hour workshop was kicked off by Southern Energy Management’s Bob Kingery last March 15th and ended with a talk by renowned Boston lawyer Forrest Milder who brought it home with class on the Practical Aspects of Renewable Energy Project Development. Four groups presented their projects, ranging from a community solar project to an industrial combined heat and power application with geothermal and solar back-up.

July brings a string of brand new workshops. Presented jointly with CleanEdison, the Solar Center is now offering the Building Performance Institute – Building Analyst (BPI-Building Analyst) five-day workshop and the two-day Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Green Associates (LEED-GA) workshop. The BPI – Building Analyst is the newest workshop to become integrated into the Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) Diploma Series. As such, taking this workshop together with two other 40-hour courses would count towards your RET Diploma. Other workshops belonging to the RET Diploma Series include PV fundamentals, PV-Advanced, Solar Thermal, Wind, and CREM.

On top of the new energy efficiency and green building workshops, the Center is also focused on bringing instructor training to a different level. In 2010, the Solar Center was named one of eight Regional Training Providers in the country to be a part of the U.S. Department of Energy funded Solar Instructor Training Network. Originally focused on training instructors to teach future installers, the Center has expanded instructor training to not only involve technical instructors in community colleges, but also to include STEM teachers and other tertiary level educators in other disciplines who might want to integrate solar topics in the classroom. Thus, the Solar Instructor Series was created.

The Solar Instructor Series is a program for educators who are committed to introducing photovoltaic  (PV) concepts into the classroom. Whether it is in a basics of electricity class, a sustainable business course, or an alternative energy degree, educators in this program will gain information and access to resources to help them teach solar to their students.  There are 11 workshops in this series. All of these workshops are available to the public and can be accessed without being in the program. But only those accepted in and are committed to the goals of the program can avail of the deep discounts to these workshop. To get the list of courses offered under the Solar Instructor Series, and to apply, go to

Apple, SunEnergy1 solar projects get N.C. approval

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

N.C. regulators have cleared two major solar projects for construction this week — Apple Inc.’s    proposed 20-megawatt project at its Catawba County server farm and the expansion of SunEnergy1’s large merchant solar plant in Plymouth.

Apple’s plans have gotten a lot more attention. Investment in the project could approach $100 million, based on current prices for solar installations. And it will be paired with a 4.8-megawatt fuel-cell project to offset some of the environmental effects of the power-hungry, 500,000-square-foot server farm Apple opened in Maiden last year.

The SunEnergy1 project could be more important for the solar industry in North Carolina. The Mooresville-based company is building the first of several projects planned by various developers that seek to build large projects in North Carolina and sell the power into the PJM Interconnection system through Dominion Power.

It will be a little smaller than the Apple project. SunEnergy1 plans to build the project in phases, eventually reaching 20 megawatts of direct current production. But converting that to alternating current — required for use on the grid — will knock the capacity down to about 17 megawatts.

Kenny Habul, chief executive of SunEnergy1, says he is looking for a way to get into the entrepreneurial merchant market. If the power were going to be sold in North Carolina, it would have to be sold directly to a utility. But by selling in PJM — which covers the mid-Atlantic States and into the Midwest — Habul can market the electricity directly to businesses that want to buy it.

The N.C. Utilities Commission approved a certificate of public convenience and need Thursday for the Apple project, which is rated at 20 megawatts of alternating current. That same day, it approved an expansion of the SunEnergy1 project from 2.4 megawatts — which have already been built —to 4.15 megawatts. That will accommodate construction of the second phase of the project.

Both projects are examples of the increasing size of projects undertaken in the state. Strata Solar of Chapel Hill plans a 20-megawatt (alternating current) project of its own in Chatham County. And the company plans to build several projects in that range and is looking at even larger projects, perhaps starting before the end of the year.


Author: John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal

Certificate in Renewable Energy Management class starting in July – sign up now!

Posted on: May 16th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

This program is for the non-installer, who would like to learn more about policy, technologies, and finance in the renewable energy industry.  It’s a unique program, and the only one like it offered in the country! Participants attend class both in person and online, and have a group project to wrap up the end of the course.

Seats fill up quickly, so be sure to sign up soon.  The first 10 registratns receive $200 off the cost of the class, so remember to ask if you are one of the first ten to register!

Learn more and register

Site Selection Ranks North Carolina 5th Most Competitive State for Business

Posted on: May 10th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


An outstanding business climate supports companies locating and expanding in N.C.

North Carolina was once again among Site Selection’s Top-Ten Competitive States of 2011. In the May 2012 edition of the magazine, North Carolina is listed as the number five most competitive state in the nation for business.

The annual ranking is based a review of 2011 economic development projects. Included in the list of criteria reviewed are:

In addition, the following performance indexes are also incorporated into each state’s score:

  • Rank in the corporate real estate executive portion of the 2011 Site Selection Business Climate Ranking;
  • State tax climate as ranked by the Tax Foundation; and
  • Performance in the Beacon Hill Institute’s State Competitiveness Index.

North Carolina is currently ranked third for Best Business Climate and fourth for Most New Projects and Expansions by Site Selection magazine.

The state is consistently recognized for its outstanding business climate thanks to its business friendly environment, low overall costs of doing business, productive and skilled workforce, global market access and research and development infrastructure.

VIDEO Credit Suisse: North Carolina’s Pro-Business Climate
Jim Captain, Managing Director for Credit Suisse in Research Triangle Park describes how state and local government and the academic and business communities work together to support business growth in North Carolina in this Thrive video.

Read more in Site Selection.

Great news for renewable energy jobs and investments in North Carolina

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

North Carolina has a 35% tax credit for investments in renewable energy technologies.   Announced by the Department of Revenue this week… in 2011, $11.3 million in renewable energy tax credits were taken in North Carolina.  As a result, we saw $108 million in  private sector spending on these technologies.  That means – for every $1 in NC credits – $10 were spent in the private sector, thus generating investment and jobs here in NC.


Click here to see the report from the Department of Revenue.