Solar power in North Carolina

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Solar power in North Carolina has been increasing rapidly, from less than 1 MW (megawatts) in 2007 to about 1437 MW in 2015, and has the second-largest installed capacity of the U.S. states.[1] SunEdison built a 17.2-megawatt solar farm in Davidson County.[2] Other prominent solar contractors in North Carolina include Strata Solar, Baker Renewable Energy and Cypress Creek Renewables.[3]

Because of declining solar panel costs, a 30 percent federal grant known as a 1603 grant was available through December 31, 2011,[4] and a 30 percent tax credit is available through 2019 (declining to 10% by 2022).[5] The federal tax credit is in addition to any local incentives and pays for the cost of installation, which can be rolled over if fewer taxes are owed that year. The difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit is substantial, as a deduction depends on your tax rate to determine your savings, but a tax credit is directly available to repay the cost of installation.[6][7] A 2012 estimate indicated that a typical 5 kW solar array would pay for itself in 6 years, and thereafter generate a substantial profit.[8][9] In addition to federal incentives, the state has a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 12.5% by 2021 and a state renewable energy tax credit, both of which have been credited with boosting solar installations.[10][11][12]

A 2018 Smithsonian Magazine article described North Carolina as likely being the national leader in the "solar shepherd phenomenon" – combining sheep farming with solar power plants to reduce the high costs of grass trimming.[13]

Installed photovoltaics[14][15][16][17][18][19]
Year Total (MW) Installed (MW) % Change
2007 0.7
2008 4.7 4 571%
2009 12.5 7.8 166%
2010 40.0 28.7 220%
2011 85.5 45.5 114%
2012 207.9 122.4 143%
2013 469.0 261.1 126%
Source: NREL[20]

Currently operating[edit]

The following tables show some of the major solar power projects currently operating in North Carolina (NC).

Dominion Energy[edit]

North Carolina solar projects[21]
Name Location MW Current status PV modules Footprint
(acres)
Clipperton Sampson County 5 Operational as of 2017 56,640 28.52
Fremont Wayne County 5 Operational as of 2017 21,128 29.76
Gutenberg Solar Norhampton County 79.9 To be acquired in mid 2019
Expected to become operational in mid 2019
279,552 1,126
IS37 Anson County 79 Operational as of 2017 344,056 550
Moorings 2 Lenoir County 5 Operational as of 2017 58,400 36
Morgans Corner Pasquotank County 20 Operational as of 2015 81,054 110
Mustang Solar Moore County 5 Expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2018 21,300 30
Pecan Solar Norhampton County 74.9 To be acquired in late 2018
Expected to become operational in late 2018
927,180 1,158
Pikeville Wayne County 5 Operational as of 2017 56,640 30
Summit Farms Currituck County 60 Operational as of 2016 650
Wakefield Solar Wake County 5 Operational as of December 2017 22,300 30

Duke Energy[edit]

Duke Energy Renewables
Name Location MW Construction
completed
PV Modules Homes
powered
Electricity purchaser (offtaker)
Battleboro Solar[22] Edgecombe County 5 2015-04 23,300 Dominion North Carolina Power
Bethel Price Solar[23] Pitt County 5 2013-12 23,000 1,000 Dominion North Carolina Power
Capital Partners, Phase I[24] Elizabeth City 20 2014-12 93,000 George Washington University
American University
GWU Hospital
Capital Partners, Phase II[25] Kelford
Whitakers
33.5 2015-12 147,300 George Washington University
American University
GWU Hospital
Conetoe II[26] Edgecombe County 80 2015-09 375,000 Lockheed-Martin (38%)[27]
Corning (62%)[28]
Creswell Solar[29] Washington County 14 2015-02 66,500 Dominion North Carolina Power
Davie Solar[30] Davie County 29 2017 63,308
Dogwood Solar[31] Halifax County 20 2013-12 93,000
Everett's Wildcat Solar[32] Martin County 5 2014-12 23,300 Dominion North Carolina Power
Halifax Solar Power Project[33] Roanoke Rapids 20 2014-12 100,000 3,500 Dominion North Carolina Power
Holiness Solar[34] Murphy 1 2011-11 4,242 200 Tennessee Valley Authority
Martins Creek Solar[35] Murphy 1 4,400 150 Tennessee Valley Authority
Millfield Solar[36] Beaufort County 5 2013-11 27,450 1,000 North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency
Monroe Solar[37] Union County 60 2017 10,000
Murfreesboro Solar[38] Murfreesboro 5 2011-12 19,960 700 North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation
Shawboro Solar[39] Currituck County 20 2015-12 95,000 Dominion North Carolina Power
Shelby Solar[40] Shelby 1 2010-05 4,522 140 North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency
Sunbury Solar[41] Gates County 5 2015-08 23,000 Dominion North Carolina Power
Taylorsville Solar[42] Taylorsville 1 2010-10 4,224 150 EnergyUnited
Tarboro Solar[43] Edgecombe County 5 2015-04 23,000 Dominion North Carolina Power
Washington Airport Solar[44] Beaufort County 5 2013-12 23,000 1,000 North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency
Washington White Post Solar[45] Beaufort County 12.5 2012-12 53,000 3,000 North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency
Wingate Solar[46] Murphy 1 2011-08 4,340 200 Tennessee Valley Authority
Windsor Cooper Hill Solar[47] Bertie County 5 2013 23,000 1,000 Dominion North Carolina Power

Note: Construction completion dates are year or year-month.

Duke Energy Regulated Utility
Name Location MW Construction
completed
PV modules Homes
powered
Camp Lejeune Solar[48] Onslow County 17.25 2017-03 55,000
Elm City Solar[49][50] Wilson County 40 2016-06 487,000 7,000
Fayetteville Solar[51] Cumberland County 23 2015-12 105,000
Warsaw Solar[52] Duplin County 65 2016-06 850,000 13,000

Generation[edit]

Using data available from the U.S. Energy Information Agency's Electric Power Annual 2016[53] and "Electric Power Monthly Data Browser",[54][55][56][57] the following table summarizes North Carolina's solar energy posture.

Capacity factor for each year was computed from the end-of-year summer capacity. 2017 data is from Electric Power Monthly and is subject to change.
Solar-electric generation in North Carolina
Year Facilities Summer capacity (MW) Electric energy (GWh or M kWh) Capacity factor Yearly growth of generating capacity Yearly growth of produced energy % of NC renewable electric energy % of NC generated electric energy % of U.S. Solar electric energy
2017 481 3221.6 5578 0.198 32.2% 63.05% 41.63% 4.2% 10.5%
2016 411 2437 3421 0.16 69.6% 149% 32.9% 2.6% 9.5%
2015 262 1436.8 1374 0.11 112.5% 88.5% 15.8% 1.07% 5.5%
2014 676 729 0.123 103% 111% 9.10% 0.60% 4.10%
2013 84 333.2 345 0.176 190.8% 148.2% 3.5% 0.27% 3.82%
2012 38 114.6 139 0.199 156.4% 717.7% 2.16% 0.12% 3.21%
2011 15 44.7 17 0.049 27.7% 54.6% 0.27% 0.01% 0.94%
2010 9 35 11 0.066 1067% 120% 0.16% 0.01% 0.91%
2009 3 3 5 0.190 0% 150% 0.07% 0.00% 0.56%
2008 3 3 2 0.152 0% 0% 0.04% 0.00% 0.23%
2007 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2017 NC Solar Energy Generation Profile
NC solar generation (GWh, Million kWh)[58]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
2011 17
2012 2 2 4 6 6 6 9 7 9 17 23 48 139
2013 10 17 24 21 32 34 34 32 36 40 30 35 345
2014 31 41 56 58 74 67 69 75 68 88 49 54 729
2015 63 52 95 110 160 151 167 156 109 100 76 135 1374
2016 168 175 348 300 265 320 336 448 328 254 182 298 3421
2017 205 249 440 481 604 661 605 574 566 530 339 325 5578
2018 355 416 537 670 887

Beginning with the 2014 data year, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has estimated the distributed solar-photovoltaic generation and distributed solar-photovoltaic capacity.[59] These non-utility-scale appraisals evaluate that North Carolina generated the following amounts of additional solar energy:

Estimated distributed solar electric generation in North Carolina[60]
Year Summer capacity (MW) Electric energy (GWh or M kWh)
2017 125.8 204
2016 109.7 167
2015 71.7 84
2014 56.8 72

2014 Duke Energy initiative[edit]

On September 15, 2014, Duke Energy committed US$500 million to an expansion of solar power in North Carolina.[61] Announced projects include:

  • Warsaw Solar Facility (65 MW) – Duplin County, developed by Strata Solar. This was scheduled to be the largest PV plant east of the Mississippi River as of the announcement date.
  • Elm City Solar Facility (40 MW) – Wilson County, developed by HelioSage Energy
  • Fayetteville Solar Facility (23 MW) – Bladen County, developed by Tangent Energy Solutions

In addition, Duke Energy plans to purchase energy from five new projects:

2015 Completions and proposals[edit]

On September 9, 2015 Duke Energy Renewables announced the completion of four solar farms with a combined output totaling 30 MW, in addition to three other farms under construction. These three farms, once completed, will produce an additional 132 MW.[62]

On September 22, 2015 Invenergy Clean Power LLC signed a build-transfer agreement to construct and sell the Morgans Corner solar facility in Pasquotank County to Dominion Energy.[63]

On December 14, 2015 Corning announced that they have entered into a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) for solar-generated electricity produced by Duke Energy Renewables at the Conetoe II facility. Corning will purchase 62.5% of the expected output (estimated at 120,300 MWh/yr) beginning in the first quarter of 2016.[64]

On December 16, 2015 Woodland Town Council leaders rejected the proposed solar farm in Northampton County due to local opposition. A concern cited at the council meeting was that "photosynthesis would not happen" around installed panels and questions about high cancer rates in the area were raised with one resident being quoted as saying "no one could tell her that solar panels didn't cause cancer".[65]

2016 Completions and proposals[edit]

In 2016 Duke Energy added about 500 MW of solar capacity in North Carolina. This includes 100 MW from Duke's own commercial and regulated businesses and 400 MW from projects built by other developers. This addition has the capacity to provide 105,000 homes with electricity during peak production. Plans for 2017 include the addition of around 400 MW including the completion of the 60 MW Monroe farm in Union County.[66]

On February 1, 2016 Lockheed Martin announced that they had entered into a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) for the remaining 37.5% of solar-generated electricity produced by Duke Energy Renewables at the Conetoe II facility.[67]

In April 2016, Currituck County commissioners denying Ecoplexus's requests for both conditional rezoning and a use permit for building a solar farm on the former Goose Creek Golf Course in Gandy.[68]

2017 Completions and proposals[edit]

In 2017 Duke Energy added about 500 MW of solar capacity in North Carolina. This included the completion of the Monrow facility and a 29 MW facility in Davie County.[69]

In March 2017, Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett upheld Currituck County's 2016 denial of a Ecoplexus's bid to build a solar farm (Sunshine Farms) on a former golf course in Grandy[70]

On May 4, 2017 Dominion Energy announced that it had planned to purchase a 79 MW solar energy facility under construction in Anson County from Cypress Creek Renewables.[71]

On Aug 03, 2017 Dominion Energy announced that it had acquired two 5 MW facilities (Fremont in Wayne County and Moorings 2 in Lenoir County) and expected to purchase two other 5 MW facilities (Clipperton in Sampson County and Pikeville in Wayne County) from Strata Solar.[72]

On Dec. 19, 2017 a three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned Currituck County's denial of the proposed Sunshine Farm.[73]

2018 Completions and proposals[edit]

Dominion Investments[edit]

On January 10, 2018 Dominion Energy announced that they would be investing $1 billion in their solar fleet in Virginia and North Carolina.[74]

Duke Energy rebate proposal[edit]

On January 22, 2018 Duke Energy Renewables proposed a $62 million rebate program for both residential and nonresidential customers. It was the first of three programs Duke is proposing as part of "Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina" legislation, signed into law in 2017 by Gov. Roy Cooper. The program requires approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission.[75]

Proposal details
Electricity customer Eligible rebate Maximum rebate
Residential
(10 kilowatts or less)
60 cents per watt $6,000
Nonresidential 50 cents per watt $50,000
Nonprofit entity 75 cents per watt $75,000

Customers would also have the option of leasing solar equipment from a third-party.

On April 16, 2018 the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the program. It applies to Duke Energy's residential, nonresidential and nonprofit customers who installed a solar system and a bi-directional meter on their property on or after Jan. 1, 2018.[76]

Recurrent Energy[edit]

On May 21, 2018 Recurrent Energy announced that they had secured $106 million in financing to build a 75 MW facility near Concord in Cabarrus County.[77]

Currituck County Approval[edit]

In June 2018, Ecoplexus received a permit from the Currituck Commission to build a solar farm south of Grandy, located at the former Goose Creek Golf Course. The permit allows for up to a 20-megawatt facility, with construction expected to start at the end of this 2018, and completion expected to be by mid-2019.[78]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Duke Energy and SunEdison Announce Completion of 17.2MW Solar Farm
  3. ^ Solar Power World
  4. ^ 1603 Treasury Program
  5. ^ Wind, Solar Companies Get Boost From Tax-Credit Extension
  6. ^ US Federal Incentives for Solar, Wind, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
  7. ^ The Federal Solar Tax Credit
  8. ^ North Carolina
  9. ^ Levelized Cost of Solar Photovoltaics in North Carolina
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