Archive for February, 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

O2 Energies building larger solar projects

Posted on: February 20th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


O2 Energies President Joel Olsen says his company will start construction in April on its largest project to date, a 6.3-megawatt, $15 million solar farm in Montgomery County near Biscoe.

It is the first of six projects in the Cornelius-based solar company’s pipeline for 2013. But it may not remain Olsen’s largest project for long. His company already has plans for a farm totaling more than 25 megawatts, also in Montgomery County.

The 6.3-megawatt farm will be rated at 5 megawatts of capacity for power on the grid. Solar panels produce direct current, which must be converted into alternating current for transmission on utility lines. Some power is lost in the conversion.

In Biscoe on Tuesday, Olsen told Montgomery officials he expects the smaller project to be operating by October. Power will be sold to Progress Energy Carolinas under a long-term power-purchase agreement.


Big pipeline


The larger project would be rated at 20 megawatts of alternating current. Olsen says negotiations continue for a power-purchase agreement for that project.

“We will start the 20-megawatt project in the second half of the year, and we hope to finish it in 2013 also,” he says.

Olsen says the six projects in the pipeline for 2013 — including the two Montgomery County farms — would total about 50 megawatts (rated for alternating current) of solar construction this year. That is more than twice the roughly 22 megawatts worth of solar projects the company has developed in seven projects since it started in 2009.

Olsen told Biscoe officials the project will create as many as 150 jobs during construction. Most of those jobs would go to local contractors and workers, he said.

A 20-megawatt farm would likely cost in $60 million or so to build at current prices.

It would be one of the largest solar projects in the state, he told his Biscoe audience.

Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar has announced plans for a 100-megawatt farm — 78 megawatts in alternating current — in Duplin County this year.


Written by John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal

Statewide Taskforce Releases North Carolina’s First Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Plans

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


(Raleigh, N.C. — February 19, 2013)  The North Carolina Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Taskforce, in collaboration with several statewide partners, today released the state’s first PEV Readiness Plan along with four regional plans. The N.C. PEV Readiness Plans were created through the N.C. PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea (M2S) – one of only 16 projects awarded across the United States through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The project covered the entire state of North Carolina with a focus on four metropolitan areas in the Greater Asheville, Charlotte, Piedmont Triad and Triangle areas. The N.C. Solar Center was one of five principle partners who worked on the M2S project. The Center’s Clean Transportation program co-lead the Piedmont Triad PEV planning process with Piedmont Triad Regional Council and lead the state wide Incentives and Economic Development (IED) Work Group with the N.C. Dept. of Commerce Green Economy team.

A key result of the work conducted by the N.C. Solar Center is the Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentives and Policy Options for North Carolina paper included as part of the state wide PEV plan released by principle partners today. The paper surveys incentives provided by neighboring states and provides recommendations for state and local policy options. “Electric vehicles offer substantial gains in efficiency, emissions and long term savings to the purchaser and incentives can play an important role to spur more wide spread adoption,” says Anne Tazewell, the Center’s Transportation Manager. North Carolina offers no state incentives for the purchase of PEVs or charging stations while nearby South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Maryland do, the report reveals.

“Currently, North Carolina is still in the beginning stages of plug-in electric vehicle adoption and the statewide NC PEV Roadmap recommends continuing to move forward with collaborative efforts to ensure a more seamless integration of these vehicles and to maintain its position as a leader in plug-in electric vehicle readiness.” says Katie Drye, project manager, Transportation Initiatives, Advanced Energy. “


Key Highlights from the NC PEV Roadmap Plan Include:


  • Records from the NC Department of Motor Vehicles revealed there are more than 700 PEVs registered in North Carolina as of August 2012 and estimates indicate there will be more than 750,000 PEVs on the road by 2030!
  • Data collected through the planning process indicate there are 350 public and 170 private charging stations in North Carolina.
  • An analysis of PEV incentives, including a survey of fleet managers provides recommendations on the types of incentives beneficial for North Carolina:
  • Review of policies, codes and standards, including recommendations for updates to local zoning ordinances, municipal codes, historic districts, sign requirements; encroachment agreement processes, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Key messaging developed for target audiences


The plans will be featured at an upcoming NC PEV Taskforce meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Sheraton Hotel, 421 S Salisbury Street, in Raleigh. Interested participants can register to attend the meeting by visiting



About the NC PEV Taskforce

The NC Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Taskforce is focused on establishing North Carolina as the leader in electrified transportation and promoting PEV readiness throughout the state. A collaborative group of key stakeholders from private industry, academia, non-profit and local and state government, this Taskforce is working to ensure the rapid and seamless integration of PEVs into local communities and the marketplace. The primary goals of the Taskforce are to increase the adoption of PEVs and support economic development opportunities through the exchange of innovative ideas and experience. The Taskforce will create a PEV roadmap, develop a network of PEV charging stations across the state, and align North Carolina’s electrified transportation goals with those on a national level. For more information:


About the NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea

The NC PEV Roadmap and four Community Readiness Plans were created supported through the NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging in from Mountains to Sea (M2S) planning project with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program through Centralina Council of Governments. Project collaborators include: Advanced Energy, Land-of-Sky Regional Council, NC Solar Center/NC State University, Piedmont Triad Regional Council, & Triangle J Council of Governments.


About the North Carolina Solar Center

The North Carolina Solar Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Solar Center visit:  Twitter: @NCSolarCenter
Media Contact: Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340,

Chapel Hill’s Strata Solar to build 100-MW farm in Duplin County

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

Chapel Hill’s Strata Solar said on Monday that it is finalizing plans for a 100-megawatt, $250 million project in Duplin County that would be eight times larger than anything now operating in North Carolina.

Strata CEO Markus Wilhelm said he’s aiming for construction to begin in the last quarter of 2013, assuming the North Carolina Utilities Commission approves the project, to be located on a single 400-acre farm near Warsaw, about an hour southeast of Raleigh on I-40. Wilhelm said his company will file its application next week.

“I don’t think there’s a 100-megawatt project anywhere on the East Coast,” Wilhelm said Monday afternoon at a small gathering at a smaller Strata solar farm in Chatham County.

He estimated that construction will involve some 400 workers in rural Duplin County.

The goal is to have the complex fully up and running in the fourth quarter of 2014, Wilhelm said.

Several aspects of the project are on the brink of falling into place, he said, including a final commitment from investors, who are waiting for the application to be filed next week. The lead investor is a large U.S. bank that Wilhelm declined to name, which would use its investment to offset large tax liabilities.

He estimated the project’s value at $250 million.

One hundred megawatts is enough to supply 12,000 homes, on average, and about one-tenth the size of one unit at a typical nuclear or gas-fired plant. Solar farms’ output can vary dramatically even from one hour to the next, of course, a contrast with nuclear, gas and coal plants that was underscored Monday afternoon, with full cloud cover driving the Chatham County facility’s output down to about 5 percent of peak.

The state’s largest project now in operation is a 12.5-megawatt solar farm in coastal Beaufort County, which was built by Mooresville, N.C.-based SunEnergy1 and sells to a non-regulated unit of Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) that specializes in renewable energy. SunEnergy1 and Duke have discussed plans to expand that to 20 megawatts.

Wilhelm said the Duplin County facility will supply Duke’s Progress Energy Carolinas subsidiary under a power-purchase agreement due to be signed some time after Strata’s regulatory filing. The project’s sheer size is requiring Strata and Progress to have an entirely new substation built nearby to regulate the voltage of its output.

Strata dramatically outgrew North Carolina’s other solar companies in 2012 and the volume of Strata projects already in Strata’s pipeline played a role in Triangle Business Journal’s decision to name Wilhelm as one of its “10 people to watch” in 2013.


Written by Chris Bagley, Triangle Business Journal

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

GEENEX Announces Solar Projects in North Carolina

Posted on: February 11th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


A new solar power research center coming to a location formerly occupied by an airport will provide a workforce for future energy jobs.

This is the vision announced today at the Halifax County Convention and Visitors Bureau, when Geenex LLC Chief Executive Officer Georg Veit outlined a plan for the building of a solar plant at the old airport property outside Roanoke Rapids.

The first part of the plan is to build a six megawatt solar generation plant, to be completed before the end of the year. By the start of 2014, Veit said, the plan is to build a second system, about double the size of the first, along with the Solar Center of Excellence, a research facility dedicated to providing research and education about solar power.

Veit, whose company is based in Charlotte, said such a facility could provide a foundation for a bright future for solar power in Halifax County.

“We want to make Halifax County the center for solar in this state,” Veit said. “And with the Solar Center of Excellence, we want to inform the public — what is solar? We want to educate the workforce. In Germany, everybody wants solar, and we wanted it because we learned the benefits of solar. We have a vision if we tell people about solar, they will want it as well.”

Providing education, Veit said, about solar, will help the public become an educated workforce and be able to work in the energy industries of the future.

“There is a limited educated workforce for this market,” said Mike Whitson, of PCG Solar, a partner in the Geenex project at the airport.

In addition to the educational facility, Geenex, which signed a lease for the airport property today, will invest $72 million in the project and create 12 jobs, paying well above the average hourly wage.

The company will make its money by selling power to utility companies, but the crown jewel of the project, Veit said, is the solar center.

Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman James Pierce said the expectation of the board is to see the vision behind the solar center realized, so the workforce needs of the future can be filled by local residents.

“We’re going to educate and train people in our community to fill that need long-term,” Pierce said.

The facility will also be partnering with Halifax Community College as it attempts to train a workforce to help fill early needs. College Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Avent said the addition of Geenex to the community and their 30-year commitment to a lease at the old airport show there’s a bright future ahead for Halifax County. Avent thanked the business leaders and elected officials in the community for helping make it happen.

“This is a great day in Halifax County,” Avent said. “The whole objective of everything we do is to make Halifax County a better place to live and raise a family, and thanks to the people in this room, we’re making it happen.”


Written by Roger Bell, The Daily Herald

Webinar Feb. 20 offers overview of DOE’s Boiler MACT Technical Assistance Program

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC) is conducting a webinar on Wednesday, February 20, 2013, to inform major source boiler owner and operators and other stakeholders of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Boiler MACT Technical Assistance program.   Register for this webinar to learn about the SE-CEAC’s plans over the coming months to provide Southeast and Gulf Coast facilities this assistance, which has been piloted in the state of Ohio since March 2012 in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission in that state.

DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center logo

On December 20, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Air Act pollution standards, National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters (known as ICI Boiler MACT).  This standard applies to large boilers in a wide range of facilities and institutions.

DOE is offering this Technical Assistance to ensure that major sources burning coal or oil have information on cost-effective clean energy strategies for compliance, such as natural gas combined heat and power (CHP), and to promote cleaner, more efficient boilers to cut harmful pollution and reduce operational costs. This technical assistance effort is in accordance with the August 2012 Executive Order on accelerating investment in industrial energy efficiency, including CHP.

The SE-CEAC will offer this technical assistance, in addition to their regular services, to nearly 200 Southeast and Gulf Coast major source facilities impacted by the Boiler MACT regulation.    In the Southeast and Gulf Coast regions, these sites are concentrated in the chemicals, paper manufacturing, textile, food production, and plastics and rubber sectors.

On the webinar, Keith McAllister, Senior Technical Analyst with the SE-CEAC and Isaac Panzarella, SE-CEAC Director, will provide an overview of the program, discuss the CHP compliance strategy, as well as provide information on potential funding and financing opportunities to assist with CHP, boiler tune-ups and/or energy assessments.

Learn more by viewing the fact sheet on the DOE’s Boiler MACT Technical Assistance program, and contact information for CEACs providing this assistance in regions other than the Southeast and Gulf Coast.

Major source boiler owners and operators, air permitting and compliance specialists, state energy officials and others interested in investments in combined heat and power at industrial and institutional facilities may register for the webinar, being held from 10am to 11pm Eastern on Wednesday the 20th of February.


Contact Isaac Panzarella,, or Keith McAllister,, at the Southeast Clean Energy Application Center for further information.

About the U.S. DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center

The North Carolina Solar Center manages 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 NC Solar Center and SE-CEAC combine efforts to work with legislators, regulatory commissions, state and local government officials, and their staff to inform them of effective CHP policies and addressing existing barriers.

Updates on wind energy in North Carolina

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


On December 12, 2012, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the release of the Call for Information and Nominations for potential offshore wind leasing areas offshore from North Carolina.  The call covers what we have known as areas 1, 2, and 5 – now dubbed Call Area Kitty Hawk, Call Area Wilmington East and Call Area Wilmington West (see map here).  Additionally, the Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Assessment covering these areas was released.  The public comment periods for the Call and the Notice of Intent originally closed on January 28th, but are now set to close on March 7th.  This was an important step for offshore wind in North Carolina and the N.C. Solar Center encourages everyone to submit comments to BOEM in support of moving forward with offshore wind in North Carolina – you can do so here for the Call and here for the Notice of Intent.

The Call areas were identified over the last several years through the work of the BOEM North Carolina State Task Force, of which the N.C. Solar Center is a member.  The areas, already vetted by many state, federal and local stakeholders, will continue to be refined based on responses received during the comment period and results of ongoing BOEM working groups.  Comments on the Call were received by BOEM during outreach meetings in Nags Head January 7th and Wilmington January 9th.  The N.C. Solar Center organized state-level speakers at these events to provide background information to the public – all presentations from the meetings are available at the BOEM website.

The responses to the Call will include nominations of interest from offshore wind developers and will provide a better understanding of where exactly we might see projects developed within these Call Areas.  One exciting comment letter already sent to BOEM is from Governor McCrory – stating his support for offshore wind development in the state as part of an “all of the above” energy approach.  The letter acknowledges the economic benefits North Carolina already sees through the onshore wind supply chain and the potential to expand manufacturing jobs in the state through offshore wind.  Governor McCrory’s support is a great signal that North Carolina can effectively move this industry forward in the coming years.

BOEM also held workshops on an offshore wind visual simulation study during the week of January 7th in Kitty Hawk and Wilmington.  The study covers 18 sites along the coast with views of a 200 turbine wind project (2 scenarios – Vestas V164 7.0 MW and Siemens ST-3.6-107 turbines with 1000 meter spacing) at 10, 15 and 20 nautical miles offshore.  Each site and scenario are shown under four different conditions – early morning, late afternoon, starlit night and foggy night. Time lapse videos are also available for a subset of the sites and scenarios.

A critical piece of this study is the meteorological report, which provides data on the average visibility for certain distances offshore in North Carolina, as well as specific data for visibility at each visualization site.  Overall, the report found that daytime visibility to 10 nm occurs at least 50 percent of the day, 34.8 percent of the time (127 days per year) and this drops to 27.3 percent of days during the summer.  It is important to reference the site specific data from the meteorological report when viewing the visualizations and assessing the visual impact of potential projects.

For those that missed the meetings, the simulations can be found online.  However, since the only way to properly view the large panoramas is in person (with the pictures curved to a specific angle and at a specific distance) – the Solar Center is working with BOEM to find a way to make these panoramas available at the coast for more stakeholders to view.  The Center will provide additional updates in the coming months as the BOEM process continues to move forward in the state.