Archive for 2013

Forum on Solar Development & Siting in North Carolina: June 27 – Greensboro, NC

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


(Presented jointly by the NC Solar Center & the NC Sustainable Energy Association)



Join the NC Solar Center and the NC Sustainable Energy Association for the second in a series of five public forums designed specifically to spark critical information sharing on the technical, social, and environmental aspects of solar projects.


Date: Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time: 4:00 PM – 7:30 PM


Proximity Hotel
704 Green Valley Road
Greensboro, NC 27408

Register today



Following this event, subsequent meetings are planned for the following locations:

Thursday, August 8, 2013 | 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
The Venue
21 North Market St
Asheville, NC 28801

Register today


Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Carolina Civic Center
315 North Chestnut Street
Lumberton, NC  28359

Register today


Charlotte:  October (date & location coming soon)


North Carolina has experienced dynamic growth in solar photovoltaic system development; much of it in rural areas of North Carolina where jobs have been created and tax bases have grown.  Still, there is limited education for the general public, land owners, and local governments on facilitating this type of development in a way that harmonizes with local needs.  Though some towns and counties have already passed their own solar ordinances to provide a useful guide for the development of solar projects, many others have not. These areas can benefit greatly from an improved understanding of solar project basics.  Industry and extra-industry stakeholders can advance this goal and also serve to provide a template for the permitting of solar energy facilities.  We encourage your attendance at this dynamic and informative event.


Seating is Limited:  Register today


 Agenda  – Greensboro, NC

3:30 – 4:00 PM  Check-in/Registration
4:00 – 4:15 PM  Welcome/Introduction and Overview:
Miriam Makhyoun, NC Sustainable Energy Association
Tommy Cleveland, NC Solar Center
Michael Fucci, NC Sustainable Energy Association

4:15 – 5:00 PM   General Discussion:  Representatives from legal (Katherine Ross, Associate Attorney, Parker Poe), agriculture (Paul Sherman, Air & Energy Programs Director at North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation), planning community (Les Egers, Deputy Planning Director for the Guilford County Planning Commission and Dervin Spell, Planner and Deputy LDO Administrator for Granville County Development Services Planning Division), and government (Michael Brown, Property Valuation Specialist, NC Department of Revenue).

Moderated by Adam Lovelady of the UNC School of Government


5:00 – 5:20 PM   Break

5:20 – 5:30 PM   Presentation on Smaller-Scale Solar Permitting by Bob Kingery, Co-Founder & President, Southern Energy Management
5:30 – 6:30 PM   Solar Industry Panel: Donna Robichaud, President at QF Solutions LLC, Bob Kingery, Co-Founder & President, Southern Energy Management, Paul Brucke, Solar Project Manager at Black and Veatch, Lance Williams, Manager of Site Development at Strata Solar

Moderated by Miriam Makhyoun, NCSEA


6:30 -7:00 PM   Tour Proximity Hotel, NC Green LEED Platinum Luxury Hotel:

7:00 -7:45 PM   Networking:

Live text polling will take place throughout the event to inform the drafting of a template solar ordinance for North Carolina communities to adopt.

Seating is Limited:   Register today

Benefits of Attendance
  • Gain an understanding of local development and permitting processes.
  • Learn about stakeholder values regarding solar energy facilities and land use.
  • Learn how solar affects local communities.
  • Explore best practices for solar siting.
  • Network with energy leaders, consumers, planners and many others.
  • Participate in break-out session and panel discussion.
  • Inform the process of developing a template ordinance for solar energy facilities in North Carolina for local governments.
  • Hear from experienced individuals who own land and knowledgeable professionals from an array of backgrounds.


Attendee Profile
  • Electric Utilities and Independent Power Producers
  • Local, State and Federal Government Officials and Staff
  • Clean Energy Business Owners and Employees
  • Planning Agencies, Energy Advisors and Consultants
  • Clean Energy Architects, Engineers and Construction Representatives
  • Community College and University Researchers
  • Commercial and Industrial Energy Customers
  • Clean Energy Technology Adopters, Site Owners and Managers
  • Manufacturers of Renewable Energy Systems
  • Clean Energy System Integrators
  • Start-up Entrepreneurs

For Sponsorship Information, contact

For General Information on public fora or the drafting of the template solar ordinance, contact:

Tommy Cleveland, PE
Solar Energy Engineer
North Carolina Solar Center
N.C. State University
919.515.9432 (office)


Miriam Makhyoun
Clean Energy Industry Specialist,
NC Sustainable Energy Association
Office:  (919)-832-7601 x114

New tool compares fuel costs for electric & non-electric cars

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


A new tool on the US Department of Energy’s website allows users in each state to compare the price of power for an electric car to the cost of driving the same distance using gasoline. In North Carolina, a gallon of regular, unleaded fuel costs an average of $3.41. The equivalent amount of electricity costs about a third of that- an average of $1.02. That’s 12 cents less than the national average.
Patrick Davis with the Energy Department says the tool is designed to inform people about the actual costs of driving an electric vehicle.

“Consumers are very used to and comfortable with understanding what the price of gasoline means to them, we felt that they were less comfortable and knew less about what it costs to run an electric drive vehicle and this tool helps them do that,” Davis says.

Davis says the cost of electricity is more stable than gasoline prices, which can be affected by international events.


Written by WUNC/NC Public Radio

U.S. Solar Market Insight Q1 2013

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


The latest Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Solar Market Insight™ report for Q1 2013 details a total of 8.5 gigawatts of solar electric capacity operating in the U.S (PV+CSP).

That’s enough solar energy to power more than 1.3 million average U.S. households.

Download the FREE Executive Summary now.

A few key facts from the report include:


  • The U.S. installed 723 megawatts (MW) in Q1 2013, which accounted for over 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S. last quarter. Overall, these installations represent the best first quarter of any given year for the industry.


  • California installed more new solar PV on residential homes than ever before.


  • In Arizona, 86% of all residential PV installed in Q1 2013 was installed through third-party ownership systems, like solar leasing.


To hear more of the report results firsthand, please join SEIA and GTM Research on Thursday, June 27 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT for a free webinar. We’ll cover key report findings and what they mean for the industry. Register now.

Get the Executive Summary now, or purchase the full report to get more detail on the findings.


Ikea Charlotte plugs in solar system

Posted on: June 6th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Ikea Charlotte has completed installation and “plugged in” the 1.1-megawatt solar-energy system atop its store in the University area, according to a news release from the Swedish home-furnishings retailer.

The 122,000-square-foot photovoltaic array consists of 4,228 solar panels on the roof of the 356,000-square-foot store. The system is expected to produce 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power about 140 homes, Ikea says in its news release.

Swedish retailer IKEA has completed the installation of a solar-energy system on the roof of its Charlotte store.


With the completion of the Charlotte project, the company has solar installations on 39 of its 44 U.S. facilities.

Ikea owns and operates the systems on its store rooftops, as opposed to a more common solar lease program or power-purchase agreement. The company has a goal of being energy-independent by 2020, and its solar installations as well as more than 100 wind turbines it has in Europe are part of that initiative.

“The installation of solar panels at Ikea Charlotte is another way we can build upon our ongoing commitment to sustainability,” says Richard Castanon, Charlotte store manager. “At Ikea, we believe in creating a better every life for the many people, so investing in renewable energy helps contribute to that goal.”

The company contracted with Gehrlicher Solar America Corp. for the development, design and installation of the Charlotte store’s solar-power system. Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) is also a partner on the project; state law requires that excess power produced by such systems be sold to the resident utility.

The store, which opened in 2009, is located on 25 acres off Interstate 85 in northeast Charlotte.


Written by the Charlotte Business Journal

Governor McCrory proclaims June solar energy month in North Carolina

Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Raleigh, NC– Governor Pat McCrory announced today that he has proclaimed June as Solar Energy Month in North Carolina, stressing the role the growing industry is playing in creating jobs and helping make our state and nation energy independent.

“North Carolina is home to one of the fastest growing solar industries in our nation,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “It is important that we recognize the impact the solar industry is making in our state, not only in terms of being another valuable piece to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, but also the high-quality jobs the industry creates for hardworking North Carolinians.”

Governor McCrory was joined by Strata Solar CEO Markus Wilhelm for the proclamation announcement at Strata Solar in Willow Spring, North Carolina.

The solar energy sector is expanding throughout the state, with solar farms, plants, manufacturing equipment for the solar industry, and workers installing and maintaining both large and small scale solar facilities creating critical jobs for North Carolinians. North Carolina currently has more than 500 companies working in the solar industry, and they employ about 2,000 workers.

Since 2007, more than $743 million has been invested in the solar industry, creating jobs and providing solar photovoltaic development and infrastructure.  Today more than 229 megawatts of solar energy are currently installed throughout North Carolina – sixth in the nation.

Click here to view and download a copy of the proclamation.

N.C. Solar Center receives $6.2 Million grant for air quality solutions in North Carolina

Posted on: May 21st, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Energy Award Supports North Carolina Alternative Fuel Efforts

RALEIGH, N.C.– The North Carolina Department of Transportation is supporting efforts led by the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University to reduce transportation related emissions with a three-year $6,200,000 award for the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project. The CFAT 2013-15 project is the third phase of an initiative that began in 2006 and was previously administered with $3,000,000 in state and federal funding.

The CFAT project focuses on improving air quality in the 24 North Carolina counties that are in non-attainment or maintenance status for national air quality standards. The project centers around three primary activities: education and outreach, emission reduction sub-awards and recognition of exemplary efforts among fleets and organizations that implement clean transportation-related policies and practices. Phase three of the project will include the following new components:

  • A public education campaign, using billboards and other related media such as radio, television and social media;
  • The establishment of a technical advisory committee to develop clean transportation training activities;
  • The creation of a state-wide green fleet program to enhance opportunities for continuing expansion of clean transportation policies and practices.


The grant awarded to the N.C. Solar Center is funded with federal dollars through the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program that is administered annually by NCDOT.  CMAQ funds support projects that improve air quality by reducing transportation-related emissions. The most recent federal transportation funding bill, MAP-21, places new emphasis on the use of CMAQ funds for electric and natural gas  infrastructure  along with diesel engine retrofits and other efforts that reduce fine particle pollution.

The majority of federal CMAQ funding supporting the CFAT project is budgeted for sub-award projects that will be allocated through an annual call for project process. Over $4,000,000 is budgeted for eligible CMAQ technologies, such as vehicle and refueling/recharging equipment for biodiesel and E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline), electric vehicles, natural gas and propane in public and private sector fleets. Diesel retrofits and idle reduction technologies are also eligible for funding support of up to 80% of project costs

The CFAT project intends to continue successful partnerships with Centralina and Triangle J Council of Governments (COGs) through the Centralina Clean Fuels and Triangle Clean Cities coalitions, as well as expand education and outreach efforts to the Piedmont Triad Regional Council and Upper Coastal Plain and Ker-Tarr COGs. “NCDOT’s funding will significantly expand education, outreach and deployment of alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technology to help reduce transportation-related emissions in effected counties ”, said Anne Tazewell, clean transportation manager at the N.C. Solar Center.


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 visit:  Twitter: @NCSolarCenter


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

Case Study: Solar in small communities

Posted on: May 16th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The Solar in Small Communities: River Falls, WI case study explores the City of River Falls’ efforts to stimulate a local solar market, with a focus on the River Falls Municipal Utility (RFMU) Solar Feed-in Tariff program.  Together, RFMU, the local government, and the citizens of River Falls have developed a suite of energy programs for the community over the past 12 years.  Their success and continued dedication serves as a strong example of how a small community can work with its municipal utility to accelerate the development of a solar industry.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Click here to read the entire case study.

Case study: What is the value of solar?

Posted on: May 16th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The What is the Value of Solar?: Austin, Texas case study examines the Value of Solar tariff offered to Austin Energy’s residential solar customers in place of net metering. The Value of Solar tariff is an effort to move beyond net metering and more accurately measure the tangible and intangible benefits that solar energy systems add to an electric grid. The case study explains the design, development and implementation of the Austin Energy VOS and examines how replicable the tariff could be for state and local governments looking to encourage solar energy development.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Click here to read the entire case study.

Watauga County’s gas-to-energy landfill project wins EPA award

Posted on: May 1st, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Watauga County’s Landfill Gas-To-Energy Project for excellence in innovation and for achieving environmental and economic benefits.

Watauga County’s 186-kilowatt pilot project generates electricity by burning methane-rich gas extracted from a small, once-closed landfill in Boone. It creatively employs two retrofitted automotive internal combustion engines, and, according to the EPA, this technology had previously been used only to destroy methane from coal mine gas. The project was among seven in the U.S. recognized at the EPA’s annual Landfill Methane Outreach Program Conference, held Jan. 29–31.

The county enlisted help from many local sources. Appalachian State University’s Energy Center assisted with project management support, including student and faculty research and waste heat utilization design. Blue Ridge Electric, one of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, also provided technical assistance from the project’s earliest stages. “Our staff has provided many services, including helping the county develop a test plan, commissioning the unit and making sure everything is working properly,” said Mike High, director of engineering services at the co-op. In particular, Blue Ridge Electric’s engineering manager Ralph Seamon spent much time serving in a technical advisor capacity, from the project’s start-up to seeing it successfully operational, High added.

The county began the endeavor as a voluntary effort in 2005?—?now the internationally acclaimed project hosts visitors from as far away as Brazil and Eastern Europe. It sells its electricity to Duke Energy and green power credits to NC GreenPower. Over its life, the project is expected to provide the county an annual profit of up to $72,000 and reduce landfill electricity costs by up to 80 percent.


By Carolina Country Magazine

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.”