Archive for April, 2013

Verizon to spend $100M on solar panels, fuel cells for facilities

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

Verizon is making its largest commitment to clean power to date with a planned $100 million investment into installing solar panels and fuel cells at its facilities. The company joins the league of Apple and Google with its aggressive investments in distributed, renewable energy.

Telecom giant Verizon is expected to announce on Tuesday that it plans to spend $100 million on clean power projects, including installing solar panels and fuel cells at 19 locations to help power its buildings and network infrastructure. Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer James Gowen plans to make the announcement at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference on Tuesday.

Verizon plans to buy fuel cells from ClearEdge Power and solar panels from SunPower. The amount of power from the solar panels and fuel cells, which will be installed across seven states, will be 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s enough to power 6,000 homes per year.

Fuel cells look like industrial refrigerators, and they use a chemical reaction to produce electricity and heat. They are filled with large stacks that are lined with catalysts (a metal, sometimes platinum), and a fuel (commonly natural gas) is inserted in one side and runs over the stack. Electricity and heat flow out the other side. The benefits of fuel cells are that the electricity can be created on site where it is used, and if the fuel used is biogas, then the electricity is also free of carbon emissions.

Verizon has been using a small amount of solar and fuel cell technology for awhile, but this move represents the company’s largest commitment to clean power projects to date. Verizon is looking to cut its carbon emissions footprint substantially by 2020.


Gowen told me in an interview that this initiative is being driven both by the desire to add energy resiliency to Verizon’s facilities as well as the company’s sustainability goals. During superstorm Sandy, a fuel cell installation that Verizon had in Long Island that powered a switching station (using fuel cells from UTC Power, which was acquired by ClearEdge Power) never went down. Gowen said he wanted that type of off-grid resiliency through out Verizon’s facilities.

All of the solar panel installations in 2013 will be pretty large ones. For example, Verizon is putting solar panels on the roof of a data center in New Jersey, as well as on the ground next to the data center. The return on investment for the combined clean power projects is supposed to be around ten years, said Gowen.

Deploying clean power technologies — both solar panels and fuel cells — at data centers is a growing trend for internet and telecom companies in the U.S. Apple (a AAPL), Google, eBay, and Microsoft are all deploying clean power at data centers to help add off grid resiliency, as well as lower carbon emissions.

Apple is building its own solar panel farms and fuel cell farms at its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Google has spent over a $1 billion investing in clean power projects and recently started working with Duke Energy on a clean power initiative in North Carolina. AT&T has large fuel cell farms powering its operations in California and Connecticut, using technology from Bloom Energy.

In a call last week, ClearEdge Power’s CEO David Wright called Verizon’s commitment to clean power technology “a stake in the ground for other technology companies.”



Geothermal energy’s environmental & health benefits worth $117M annually

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has released an Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis showing geothermal energy provides significant benefits to public health and the environment as one of the least-polluting and most environmentally friendly forms of energy. The analysis found binary geothermal plants produce virtually no greenhouse gases (GHG) and dry steam and flash geothermal plants put out only trace amounts of emissions. It estimates the public benefits from clean energy produced in California and Nevada are worth more than $117 million annually.

“Energy production and use is a major source of environmental and public health damage, and geothermal energy is a truly remarkable resource because it harnesses the power of the Earth to produce large amounts of power with virtually no impact,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “Geothermal has tremendous untapped potential to provide energy without adding harmful elements into the environment.”

According to the report, geothermal energy emerges as one of the least polluting and environmentally unobtrusive forms of energy, having the lowest lifecycle emissions of any generating technology. Dry steam and flash geothermal energy plants emit about 5% of the carbon dioxide, 1% of the sulfur dioxide, and less than 1% of the nitrous oxide emitted by a coal-fired plant of equal size; and binary geothermal plants produce near-zero emissions. This is advantageous to public health, since many of the pollutants released in energy production carry negatives health consequences.

Additional benefits of geothermal energy include less land degradation, air emissions and environmental harm; greater fuel diversity; and improved national security through the use of an indigenous energy source. Geothermal energy also adds to the economy by paying substantial property taxes and providing significant long-term local employment.

This analysis updates a 2005 paper published in the Electricity Journal and expands upon the methodology by incorporating more atmospheric pollutants into the calculation. The new information showed GEA researchers the benefit of producing power using geothermal sources—as opposed to fossil fuels—is worth 3.5 cents for coal, and 1 cent for natural gas per kWh. Additionally, GEA estimates geothermal provides approximately $88 million in externality benefits per year to California and $29 million to Nevadans by avoiding fossil fuel emissions.

“Geothermal energy carries a smaller environmental footprint than other energy sources, such as coal or natural gas,” said Benjamin Matek, GEA’s geothermal industry analyst and author of the updated report. “The absence of a fuel cycle reduces the impacts on transportation infrastructure, and geothermal power plants can use recycled waste water to reduce environmental impacts on water resources and treatment costs.”

The complete report is available at GEA will expound on this analysis at the National Geothermal Summit in Reno on June 26th to 27th. For more information on the Summit, please visit

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)


By: North American Clean Energy

Natural gas becomes a fuel for the long haul

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Truckers, UPS join the lot choosing cleaner, cheaper path


The natural gas boom has already upended the American power industry, displacing coal and bringing consumers cheaper electricity.

Now the trucking industry, with its millions of 18-wheelers moving products like potato chips, deodorant and copy paper around the country, is taking a leap forward in switching from petroleum to cleaner-burning natural gas. And if natural gas remains cheap, consumers may benefit again.

This month, Cummins, a leading engine manufacturer, began shipping big, new engines that make long runs on natural gas possible. A skeletal network of refueling stations at dozens of truck stops stands ready. Major shippers like Procter & Gamble, mindful of both fuel costs and green credentials, are turning to companies with natural gas trucks in their fleets.

And in the latest sign of how the momentum for natural gas in transportation is accelerating, United Parcel Service announced last week that it is expanding its fleet of heavy 18-wheel vehicles running on liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to 800 by the end of 2014, from 112. The vehicles will use the new Cummins engines, produced under a joint venture with Westport Innovations.

UPS, like the rest of the industry, still has a long way to go in the conversion, but the company hopes to make natural gas vehicles a majority of its new heavy truck acquisitions in two years. The company is benefiting from incentives provided by various states and the federal government, which offer tax credits and grants for installing natural gas fuel stations and using vehicles fueled by natural gas.

“By us doing this it will help pave the way and others will follow,” said Scott Wicker, chief sustainability officer at UPS. “Moving into LNG is a means to get us onto what we see as the bridging fuel of the future and off of oil. It’s the right step for us, for our customers and for our planet.”

The move could also cut the country’s oil import bill. Right now, about 8 million heavy and medium-weight trucks consume 3 million barrels of oil a day while traveling the nation’s highways. That is nearly 15 percent of the total national daily consumption and the equivalent of three-fourths of the amount of oil imported from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Roughly two-thirds of the diesel used as transportation fuel nationwide feeds 3 million 18-wheelers, the main trucks hauling goods over long distances.


A slow transition

In the last four years, the natural gas shale drilling boom has produced a glut of inexpensive fuel, leading producers to argue that the country should wean its commercial and municipal transportation systems from a dependence on imported oil to domestically produced natural gas.

Waste Management driver Alan Sadler fills his truck with CNG gas at the company's filling station in Washington, Pa., last November. Some predict that years from now, motorists needing a fill-up might see natural gas pumps sharing space at the neighborhood filling station with ones dispensing gasoline and diesel.


It is cheaper, saving truckers as much as $1.50 a gallon, and it burns cleaner, making it easier to meet emissions standards. The domestic fuel also provides some insulation from the volatile geopolitics that can drive up petroleum prices.

Still, manufacturers and fleet owners have been slow to switch, partly because natural gas vehicles can cost almost twice as much as conventional trucks and because only a few gasoline stations have the specialized equipment needed to dispense the fuel.

Now, as name-brand manufacturers and chains like Nike and Wal-Mart have pressed for transportation of their goods by natural gas vehicles and companies like UPS, FedEx and Ryder System have started exploring the option, truck makers have begun bringing natural gas vehicles to the market. Major manufacturers, including Navistar and Volvo, have plans to offer long-haul natural gas vehicles.

Clean Energy Fuels – a company backed by the financier T. Boone Pickens and Chesapeake Energy – has peppered major routes with 70 stations, many at truck stops operated by Pilot Flying J. (The truck-stop company, whose chief executive is Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, is separately under investigation for potential rebate fraud.)

Clean Energy has plans to complete 30 to 50 more by the end of the year. Shell has an agreement to build refueling stations at as many as 100 TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers while ENN, a privately held Chinese company, hopes to build 500 filling stations as well.


Place to fuel few

That emerging network “really has changed the interplay between the shippers and the contracted carriers,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, Clean Energy’s chief executive. “The whole deal’s beginning to change.”

Though the network is growing rapidly, it has a long way to go. As of May 2012, only 53 LNG fueling stations were in the United States, more than two-thirds concentrated in California, along with 1,047 compressed natural gas stations around the country, according to the Energy Department. In comparison, there were 157,000 fueling stations selling gasoline.

Vehicle use of natural gas in the United States is still negligible but it has been growing. Among fleets whose vehicles travel shorter routes, like transit buses, refuse haulers and delivery trucks, use of compressed natural gas is much further along. Last year, more than half of newly purchased garbage trucks ran on compressed natural gas.

The federal Energy Information Administration last year projected that if enough LNG filling stations were built and economic conditions were right, sales of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles could increase to 275,000 in 2035, equivalent to 34 percent of new vehicle sales, from 860 in 2010. But estimates vary.

Citigroup recently forecast that 30 percent of the heavy truck fleet would shift to natural gas by the end of the decade, but some in the transportation industry put that figure much lower.


A ‘chicken-and-egg dilemma’

One obstacle is cost. There are some tax incentives, and the Obama administration funneled stimulus money to various projects. ENN, the Chinese company, for instance, has teamed up with a small company now operating as Blu in Utah that used federal stimulus money to help open a natural gas fueling station in Salt Lake City in 2011.

But industry executives say that the incentives are not enough to get the system going and solve what Bill Logue, chief executive of the FedEx Freight Corp., called the “chicken-and-egg dilemma” of which comes first, the trucks or the stations.

“We believe that public policy supporting the development of natural gas infrastructure is critical and should be prioritized,” he said in an email message. “Individual drivers and private companies cannot realistically be expected to resolve the dilemma themselves.”

Another issue arises alongside the very appeal of the fuel: its low price. Because natural gas is in demand to meet so many different energy needs – including industrial electricity and home heating – prices could rise, as they have in recent months, especially if the Obama administration begins approving the fuel for export to countries where gas commands a much higher price, as some producers and lawmakers are pressing the Energy Department to do.


By Diane Cardwell and Clifford Krauss — New York Times

In Rockingham County, the sun is a crop

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


PELHAM — The first thing that gets your attention is the blue — row after row of polycrystalline panels sitting atop aluminum racking gleaming in the sunlight.

From a distance, the fenced-in area could be mistaken for a body of water.

This is a farm. Its crop is the sun.

The solar farm, which is run by Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar, sits on roughly 40 acres. More than 26,000 solar panels generate 5 megawatts of AC power.

This power, enough to serve 750 houses, is sold to Duke Energy.

County Manager Lance Metzler said the solar farm, Dibrell Farm, is the first in Rockingham County. He said more farms like this are likely in the near future.

“We are looking at other sites throughout the county that might interest Strata Solar,” Metzler said.

Blair Schooff, Strata Solar’s vice president of marketing and sales, said the company is interested in developing more farms in Rockingham County.


A bluebird perches on a solar panel at the new Strata Solar solar farm in northern Rockingham county.


“We have a couple of projects lined up,” Schooff said. “We are actively interested in the area.”

Schooff said Guilford County is also on Strata Solar’s radar.

“We are looking very intensely at that whole part of the state,” he said.

They crop up quickly, no matter where they go.

Construction on Dibrell Farm began in mid-January, and it was commissioned April 5. Strata Solar leases the farmland for 20 years with a 10-year option.

The company works with the land as is and did little to no grading. When the deal ends, the panels will be removed and recycled. The land can be used for farming or whatever else the landowner chooses.

“It’s a $12 million investment in the community,” Metzler said, adding that the company spent about $250,000 in the community during construction.

It is a good source of income for the property owner. Schooff said farmers are usually eager to deal with the company.

“We have been well-embraced by the farm community,” Schooff said.

Giant solar farms are a fairly new thing, at least in central North Carolina. Companies say they need trained workers, undeveloped land, community and government support and plenty of sunshine — which the area has in abundance.

SunEdison runs a solar farm on 355 acres in Davidson County and supplies electricity to Duke Energy under a 20-year contract.

In 2011, Guilford County was one of seven finalists for what was touted as the largest solar farm in the world — a $1.4 billion project. National Solar Power of Melbourne, Fla., eventually built the farm in its home state.

But the size and scope of the project got officials in the Triad talking about solar energy as a viable economic development option for this struggling area.

National Solar Power’s five-year construction phase, for instance, would have created 400 jobs. And the $1.4 billion investment would have produced $10.9 million in Guilford County taxes.

Strata Solar works with employment and economic development offices where projects are built, and it hires and trains individuals. Its strategy is to build solar farms in regional clusters so its teams can move from one job to the next.

Where “next” is Schooff wouldn’t say, but the company isn’t finished with Rockingham County.

And there is plenty of sunshine to go around.


Reposted from the News & Record

Renewable Energy Potential High in Rural Communities

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


USDA-funded renewable energy assessments for NC, SC & VA provide assistance


RALEIGH, N.C. – As renewable energy becomes increasingly common throughout the state of North Carolina, opportunities for rural communities to take advantage of renewable energy are growing rapidly.  Solar electric, also known as photovoltaic or PV, solar thermal, and bio-energy can bring revenue and savings to rural and agricultural enterprises while providing the environmental benefits that accompanies renewable energy. Several factors are joining forces to drive this recent explosion of solar and bio-energy development. In the PV industry, recent strong growth in worldwide demand for PV has driven down system prices through radical drops in panel prices due to manufacturing cost reductions, economies of scale and increased competition.  Additionally, large-scale investors are becoming more comfortable with solar PV and solar thermal as investments, which is increasing the size of systems and allowing new financing options.

Large Solar PV installations, some 100 acres or more, are now often being sited in rural areas, where flat land near transmission or distribution power lines is common and minimizes the cost the solar farm. Land owners can benefit by leasing land for 15 or more years to the project developers that are building these solar farms throughout the state.  Lease rates are often higher than other uses for the land, making this an attractive option for many landowners. Large solar thermal installations can be installed at any type of facility where a large amount of hot water is used. These systems can dramatically reduce the use of heating fuels, reducing the facilities’ operating costs.  A seven-acre solar thermal farm at Prestage Foods in St. Pauls, N.C. was installed at no cost to Prestage Foods, and will cut their utility cost for heating hot water by more than 35 percent.

North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (REPS) provide an ongoing opportunity for North Carolina agriculture to produce renewable energy by providing specific incentives for renewable energy produced from swine and poultry waste. Power produced from swine waste and poultry litter can claim renewable energy credits, which have a market value and can be sold to provide additional revenue to these projects.  Only a few installations have taken advantage of the swine and poultry allocations of the renewable portfolio standards, leaving a large opportunity for swine and poultry waste-to-energy projects in North Carolina.


Assessment Contact: Tommy Cleveland, NC Solar Center, 919-515-9432,

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340,

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

Sustainable energy investments total $785M in NC

Posted on: April 18th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sustainable energy projects across 45 of North Carolina’s 100 counties totaled more than $785 million between 2007-2012, says the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, which is lobbying to stop changes in state tax incentives for sustainable energy.

A bill repealing incentives has already narrowly passed a House committee vote in the General Assembly.

The data comes from a report prepared for the SEA group by RTI International and La Capra Associates. The report was released in February.

Sustainable energy investments across NC (photo credit NCSEA)

The conservative think thank John Locke Foundation has challenged some of that data.

According to a county-by-county breakdown of the report, 22 counties received investments of $10 million or more.

Wake County received $36.7 million to rank sixth.

Durham County ranked 20th at $11.2 million.

Davidson County, Robeson County and Person County ranked 1-3 respectively with $110 million or more in investments.

“The data clearly shows that North Carolina’s clean energy policies are providing an economic boost in counties all around the state,” said Lowell Sachs, director of communications for the NC Sustainable Energy Association. “In addition to creating paths for future business development, these clean energy investments bring badly needed revenue that can support core functions of these communities like roads, schools, fire departments and police.”

A map released with the update documents investments by state House Districts and by county.


Written by WRALTechWire

N.C. A&T wins ACC Clean Energy Challenge

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


RALEIGH, N.C. — Three North Carolina universities made this Final Four and in the end, North Carolina A&T emerged victorious.

No, this wasn’t college basketball. N.C. A&T won the the second annual ACC Clean Energy Business Plan Challenge held Tuesday at North Carolina State University. The contest had schools pitching clean energy proposals before a panel of judges comprised of energy industry representatives from companies such as ABB, Duke Energy and Siemens. A total of 10 universities presented at this year’s event.

The N.C. A&T project, presented by student Daniel Oldham, proposes turning hog waste into an adhesive that can be used in building materials and road repair. The other schools making the final four were Clemson University, Duke University and N.C. State. As the winning school, the N.C. A&T project receives $100,000 and the chance to compete in the National Clean Energy Business Plan finals.

The competition was organized by the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, a program of the Research Triangle Research Partnership. The public-private partnership works to promote economic development in the Triangle region.

By: WRALTechWire

10th Annual Sustainable Energy Conference offers informative, prestigious lineup

Posted on: April 9th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


RALEIGH – A Nobel Peace Prize winner, the leader of one of North Carolina’s most dynamic energy product innovators, the sustainability chief of one of the nation’s top craft brewers and the Electric Vehicle Manager with Nissan LEAF in Tennessee, will highlight presentations at the N.C. Dept. of Commerce Energy Office’s 10th annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh April 15-17.

“The state’s clean energy sector has been identified as one of the top national growth trends, vaulting North Carolina into a top-tier state for clean energy jobs and lifting the entire Southeast with it, said N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “Energy activity and issues will continue to dominate the state’s economic development landscape and will be front-and-center at our annual Sustainable Energy Conference.”

In addition to the conference’s traditional agenda, a bonus Smart Grid Forum, highlighting growth and developments in the state’s substantial Smart Grid sector of the energy economy, has been added to the conference lineup with a keynote from Eric Lightner, director of the federal Smart Grid Taskforce.

All conference sessions will take place at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center, at the corner of Western Blvd. and Gorman St. in Raleigh. The full agenda for the conference is available online at:


Keynote speakers include:


  • Marilyn Brown, a professor of energy policy in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, will deliver the opening keynote at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16.  Brown is a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The prize was awarded jointly to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


  • James Ellis, electric vehicle manager for Nissan North America.  Ellis manages projects that promote the acceptance of electric vehicles, and he helps develop strategies for charging infrastructure development. Before his career at Nissan, Ellis was senior manager for transportation and infrastructure for the Tennessee Valley Authority.  He will speak at noon on Tuesday, April 16.


  • Ty Mitchell, Executive Vice President for Cree Inc.; Cree is leading the LED lighting revolution and making energy-wasting traditional lighting technologies obsolete through the use of energy-efficient, mercury-free LED lighting.  Mitchell oversees the rapidly growing business focusing on commercial and residential LED lighting.  He will speak at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17.


  • Cheri Chastain has, for more than six years, been sustainability coordinator for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the Chico, Calif.-based craft beer brewer that is expanding with a major east-coast presence in Asheville.  She is responsible for maintaining current policies and projects, and working on new project development along with monitoring energy use, conservation, and generation; managing waste avoidance, recycling, and composting efforts as well as researching and implementing alternative fuel options and works toward water conservation and reuse.  She will speak at noon on Wednesday, April 17.


  • Eric Lightner, director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force, has worked as a manager for advanced technology in the U.S. Department of Energy for the last 18 years.  As head of the Smart Grid Taskforce, it is his mission to ensure awareness, coordination and integration of smart grid-related activities throughout the federal government.  He will open the Smart Grid Forum at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 15.  The forum will also include specially-focused panels and sessions.


As elected officials debate potential development for fossil fuels, Environment Entrepreneurs, a national organization of energy innovators, recognizes North Carolina’s clean energy sector as one of the top growing in the nation.  The growth in deployment of solar energy has been one of the state’s economic development bright spots during the depths of the great recession.  Solar Energy sector jobs in North Carolina added 21,160 jobs while the general economy shed more than 100,000.

Panel discussions will feature several topics including: wind and solar power; onshore and offshore fossil fuel exploration, sustainable agriculture; renewable energy project finance and others.  In addition, there will be a special exhibit of alternative and plug-in electronic vehicles.


The N.C. Solar Center is proud to be a sponsor of the conference.  Click here to register and see the conference agenda.


N.C. Solar Center presenters include:

Lyra Rakusin – Session R, NC Renewable Energy Supply Chain & Workforce Training – 4/17, 10:30am – Noon

Jen Banks – Session W, NC Wind Market Update – 4/17, 1:30pm -2:45pm

Solar Center staff support Southeast states teams in NGA Policy Academy

Posted on: April 9th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


In March, staff from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC), based at the N.C. Solar Center, participated in the second convening meeting for the National Governors Association’s Policy Academy on Enhancing Industry through Energy Efficiency and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Policy Academy provides a forum for select states to focus on identifying cost-effective strategies; designing new policies, programs and measures; structuring effective funding and financing options; and exploring innovative outreach, education and training approaches.   At the convening meeting the five participating state teams from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee shared developments since the project began in the fall of 2012.

At the conclusion of the Policy Academy in April 2013, each team will have developed an action plan for their state.   To support this goal, senior-level policy advisors and business leaders from other states presented in Philadelphia on their experiences with clean energy portfolio standards, interconnection policies, statewide public benefits programs and utility energy efficiency programs.  The SE-CEAC served  as expert faculty for the Policy Academy teams from Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, providing information on the application of the above policies and other programs, and will continue to support the states during the implementation of their action plans.  As part of their action plans, these three states propose to hold a Governor’s Summit on Industrial Energy Efficiency and CHP.

The SE-CEAC, in collaboration with seven other regional CEACs, works to promote and assists in transforming the market for combined heat and power, waste heat recovery, and district energy technologies and concepts.