Archive for October, 2012

Asheville part of Clean Cities for alternative fuel

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

BENT CREEK — It used to be fuel in Western North Carolina came in two basic flavors — regular and premium petroleum.

Now more drivers are pumping biodiesel, ethanol, propane or compressed natural gas into their tanks. Other motorists bypass the pumps altogether, plugging in their vehicles to recharge on electricity.

On Monday, the Asheville area was officially named the nation’s 85th Clean Cities Coalition by the U.S. Department of Energy, capping more than eight years of work promoting alternative fuels, cleaner cars and better air quality for the region.

In a signing ceremony at the N.C. Arboretum, elected officials, business and civic leaders marked the long road that led to the award.

Bill Eaker of Land-of-Sky Regional Council recalled that when the initiative started in 2004, the region had only about 100 alternative-fuel vehicles and a handful of motorists driving the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars.

“Now fleets have 1,300 alternative-fuel vehicles, and there are over 1,700 gas electric vehicles registered by N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles,” Eaker said.

In 2011 alone, the program saved 500,000 gallons of petroleum locally and prevented an estimated 4,000 tons of greenhouses gases from escaping into the atmosphere over Western North Carolina.

As a Clean Cities Coalition, the Asheville area becomes eligible for more federal grants that, in turn, could encourage ever more cleaner vehicles on area roads and cleaner air for the five-county region of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania.

The coalition will help the city of Asheville stake its claim as the greenest city in the Southeast, said Maggie Ullman, the city’s sustainability coordinator.

“Fuel and fleet are a huge part of the solution to reducing our carbon footprint, and the coalition offers a workable road map to get there. This means so much to Asheville,” she said.

Alternative fuel is a good fit for Asheville with its history of manufacturing as well offering protections for the natural environment with cleaner air and fewer greenhouse emissions linked to climate change. “Those high-elevation balds we have are really special. As we pursue alternative fuels, we are better able to protect those places,” Ullman said.

The program has already paid off in funding for the region. The coalition won $1 million in DOE funds to help Asheville and Hendersonville, Henderson County and Mission Health System buy 37 compressed natural gas vehicles. The money helped in expanding compressed natural gas fueling stations for Asheville and Henderson County, Eaker said.

Stan Cross saw the coalition designation as the next step to weaning WNC off dirty energy toward cleaner, more renewable power for cars.

“I love petroleum, but it’s day is done. We need to move past oil-based and even coal-based power all the way to more renewable energy,” said Cross of Brightfield Transportation Systems. Brightfield is promoting Electric Vehicle Tourism, offering electric rental cars for tourists to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The coalition designation isn’t the end of the road, Cross said. “This is just the beginning. This is the starting line. Now we need to move forward.”

Reposted from the Asheville Citizen-Times

Massive solar project proposed in Asheville, N.C.

Posted on: October 29th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


RIDGECREST — The Ridgecrest Conference Center could become home to one of the state’s largest investments in solar power, featuring potentially 90,500 solar panels tucked away from view on 200 acres of the mountain retreat.

Amenergy Inc., based in Santa Fe, N.M., has applied to the N.C. Utilities Commission, seeking permission to install solar panels valued at $64.5 million on six tracts around Ridgecrest.

“Ridgecrest Conference Center is discussing the possibility of leasing a few acres in a remote area of our property to Amenergy,” said Jon Wilke, a Lifeway Christian Resources spokesman in Nashville, Tenn.

Lifeway, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, owns the 1,300-acre conference center in eastern Buncombe County.

The electricity generated by the solar panels — up to 21.5 megawatts of direct current — would be sold to Progress Energy Carolinas, according to documents filed with the Utilities Commission.

“We are targeting that the whole master plan could be fully completed by no later than 2015,” said William Oglesby, president of Amenergy.

The wooded tracts have been sited so they aren’t visible from Interstate 40, which passes by the Ridgecrest Conference Center, Oglesby said. The first phase of 12 acres lies south of the interstate on the other side of a ridge.

If approved by the Utilities Commission, that first array of 8,500 panels could be up and running by next spring , generating 2 megawatts of power.

Even in its first phase, the Ridgecrest project would be larger than the 1.5 megawatt array of 5,000 panels that Biltmore Estate installed in April on 6 acres visible from I-40.

The Ridgecrest system would rival the state’s largest solar installations, including Apple’s plans to build a 20-megawatt solar farm to power its data center in Maiden County. Sun Energy One, a Mooresville company, is building a 60,000-panel array on 85 acres near Bath in Beaufort County.

Oglesby declined to call the project a solar farm since it would be spread over six different tracts. “In my mind, a solar farm would be considered one array. These are multiple independent systems,” he said. “It’s completely infeasible to target that area of the state and put in a single 20-megawatt system.”

Read more…

N.C. Solar Center providing PV training to Naval facilities

Posted on: October 23rd, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center’s Training Program is bringing its award winning, IREC ISPQ-accredited Training Program – “REPV: Renewable Energy Generation with Photovoltaic Systems” to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command – Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia from October 22-26, 2012.  Twenty civilian engineers, mechanical and electrical, will be receiving the 40-hour PV course covering photovoltaic system components, types and applications as well as solar fundamentals and system siting, electrical load analysis and system sizing, in addition to  best practices in system design, installation, maintenance and troubleshooting.  The course will be led by IREC ISPQ Master PV trainer, David Del Vecchio.

To learn more about the Center’s training programs and to see the upcoming scheduled, please click here.

N.C. Solar Center 2011-2012 Annual Report

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

The N.C. Solar Center 2011-2012 Annual Report is available for download!

These are exciting times for clean energy in North Carolina!  Our mission and the roles we play to assist the expanding cleantech industry are diverse, crossing many technologies and disciplines. In the last year, we have restructured programs, diversified revenues and generally become more creative and focused in how we work.   As a result, we have established and even stronger foundation from which the Center will work and grow.

The staff at the N.C. Solar Center look forward to working with individuals, businesses and organizations to help continue to build North Carolina’s clean energy economy.

The N.C. Solar Center announces launch of new Industry Advisory Council

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


The N.C. Solar Center is pleased to announce the initial five members appointed to its Industry Advisory Council:

Allen Burchett, SVP Strategic Initiatives and Business Development, ABB, Inc.

Kenny Habul, President & CEO, SunEnergy1

Lee J. Peterson, Esq., Senior Manager – Renewable Energy and Tax, CohnReznick, LLP

Kerry Henderson, Principal & Managing Director, Gibbs & Soell 

Ralph Thompson, President & CEO, Holocene  


The Council is expected to eventually reach between 10-15 members.


The Industry Advisory Council advises the N.C. Solar Center on fulfilling its mission of advancing a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies.

The membership of the Council will represent the programmatic focus of the Center, including representatives from the solar, wind, advanced transportation, smart grid, industrial efficiency, and high performance buildings industries.  Members of the Council have the opportunity to advise leadership regarding Center’s strategic direction and programmatic focus.  The Center strives to maintain cutting-edge relevance to the clean energy industries of North Carolina and beyond.  For this reason, the Council is critical to the Center’s process to determine the best way to focus resources.  The Council will be an active group that coordinates private sector input in the decision making process of the Center.   At the same time, Council members serve as ambassadors to help tell the story of the Center’s work in economic development and technology endeavors that support this booming sector of North Carolina and the national economy.  Membership is by invitation only.

N.C. State University’s new 11 megawatt combined heat & power system set to generate $4.3M energy savings in first year

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


N.C. State University has completed an 11 MW combined heat and power project on campus, a move toward making the N.C. State a more sustainable community.  The project is located on main campus at the University’s Cates Facility, and is expected to generate $4.3 million of energy savings in the first year of operation.  The project will increase N.C. State’s electrical and steam system efficiency by roughly 35%, reducing the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, or 33,000 CO2 equivalent metric tons. The system will be fueled by natural gas, and will include two 5.5 MW Combustion Turbines, two 50,000 PPH heat recovery steam generators, a 2,000 ton chiller and a cooling tower.  Overall the system will provide approximately 30% of a typical day’s supply of power to North and Central campus.

NC State's 11MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant

The project is being completed through a performance contract with Ameresco, Inc., and it will officially open and change over to N.C. State ownership on November 14, 2012.  The Clean Power and Industrial Energy Efficiency team at the N.C. Solar Center assisted with this project by providing initial project feasibility analysis and technical assistance.  Learn more about how this project helps achieve N.C. State University’s Sustainability goals.


Dialogue On Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency and Combined Heat & Power Underway in the Southeast

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


The U.S. Department of Energy Southeast Clean Energy Application Center co-hosted a workshop with the Industrial Energy Efficiency Network for Southeast utilities and major industrials on September 25th in Nashville, Tennessee.   The one-day workshop connected nearly 40 manufacturing corporate energy managers and energy utility energy efficiency program design managers for a one on one conversation concerning utility incentives for energy efficiency and combined heat & power systems.   Southeast industry was represented by a broad range of participants from Frito-Lay Inc., Saint-Gobain, Olin Chemical, Michelin Tire, Nissan North America Inc, Bonnell Aluminum, Johnson Controls, Honda Manufacturing and McKee Foods.  Southeast utility representatives from Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy, Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Southern Company were in attendance.

On January 24th, 2013, The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, in conjunction with the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action Network) is convening a southeast regional dialogue meeting on Industrial Energy Efficiency & Combined Heat and Power in Little Rock, AR.  The meeting will be a part of a series with two regional workshops hosted in Baltimore, MD on March 13, 2013 and in the Western United States in May, 2013.  These workshops will gather state energy officials, industry, utilities and other stakeholders to discuss strategies to meet the objectives outlined in the August 30, 2012 Executive Order – Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency.  The Executive Order sets a goal of 40 gigawatts of new, cost-effective industrial CHP in the U.S. by 2020, it directs the agencies, including DOE, with convening stakeholders, through a series of public workshops, to develop and encourage the use of best practice State policies and investment models that address the multiple barriers to investment in industrial energy efficiency and CHP.  Discussions will cover developing and implementing state best practice policies and investment models that address the multiple barriers to greater investment in industrial energy efficiency and combined heat and power (CHP).

Click here for more information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Southeast Industrial Energy Efficiency & Combined Heat and Power Regional Dialogue Meeting

The N.C. Solar Center hosts the U.S. DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC) as part of its Renewable Energy, Clean Power and Industrial Efficiency program.  The SE-CEAC promotes market development for CHP throughout the Southeast region as a clean distributed energy resource. As part of this the SE-CEAC supports policy analysis and barrier removal, as well as education and outreach resources. Together the N.C. Solar Center and SE-CEAC combine efforts to work with legislators, regulatory commissions, state and local government officials, and their staffs to educate them on effective CHP policies and existing barriers that need addressed.

America Votes Solar – National Solar Survey 2012

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

During early September, Hart Research undertook an online national survey of 1,206 registered voters on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).  The margin of error for the survey was +/- 2.8 percentage points.   Key Findings of the survey were:

9 of 10 voters (92%) believe it is important for the United States to develop and use solar power.

Of all the sources of energy that government can and should support, voters put solar at the top of the list.

By nearly a four to one margin, voters want government to support solar through tax credits and financial incentives.

Click here to see more in depth analysis of the survey.

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 –

“Solar Powering Your Community” Workshops Blazed Through the Southeast in September

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


Despite rainy weather, talk of solar power energized over 130 workshop participants throughout the Southeast last month.  N.C. Solar Center senior policy analysts Justin Barnes, Amy Heinemann, and Brian Lips worked closely with our partners of the Sunshot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs)to pull off successful half-day “Solar Powering Your Community” workshops in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, G.A.; and Columbia, S.C.  All of the workshops provided participants with an overview of policies and regulations that impact solar adoption (for better or worse), and an overview of options for financing public- and private-sector solar projects.

Our local expert panelists relate their solar experiences at the Charlotte workshop. September 21, 2012

The sessions also featured some excellent local guest speakers who provided their perspectives on what it takes to get solar done on public property.  In Raleigh, Julian Prosser, Assistant City Manager with the City of Raleigh, described the City of Oaks’ experience with solar and PV installations. Guest speakers at the Charlotte workshop included Rich Deming of the Centralina Council of Government, Dan Ziehm with Gaston County, Rob Phocas with the City of Charlotte, Stephen Hunting with the Parker Poe law firm, and Eric Blomendale with Dakota Energy Solutions.

Our guest speakers did a phenomenal job. They imparted good, practical advice about how to go solar, with an emphasis on describing obstacles that they experienced and how these obstacles were overcome.  That kind of peer-to-peer exchange of information is incredibly valuable.” -Justin Barnes.

In addition to the Southeast workshops, the SolarOPs team held additional workshops in Richmond, VA;  Kansas City, MO; Cincinnati and Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN, St. Louis, MO, and Dubuque, IA.  It was definitely a busy month, and for anyone that missed these great events, stay tuned! The Solar OPs Team will be conducting a variety of additional outreach and assistance activities during the remainder of 2012 and 2013.

*Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, SolarOPs achieves its goals through a mix of educational workshops, peer-to-peer sharing opportunities, research-based reports, and online resources. To perform the work of SolarOPs, DOE selected teams led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA. The teams include the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA); Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC); North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC); Meister Consultants Group, Inc. (MCG); The Solar Foundation (TSF); American Planning Association (APA); and National Association of Regional Councils (NARC).

The goal of the SolarOPs is to help local governments take a comprehensive approach to solar energy deployment by:  Conducting outreach and sharing best practices for increasing solar energy use with thousands of local governments across the nation;  working in partnership with industry experts and national membership associations to enable local governments across the United States to expand their local solar markets; and providing actionable information in relevant areas, such as solar policies and regulations, financial incentives, workforce training, and utility and community engagement.