Selected category: North Carolina

Corporate Giants Use their Power to Protect North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

solar farmPop quiz: What do current and former executives at Apple, Facebook, Google, Bank of America, and Duke Energy have in common?

Answer: They all believe in expanding renewable energy in North Carolina, where the legislature proposes to gut the clean energy policies that have made the state a national leader in solar energy.

At stake is the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021. Lawmakers want to freeze the target at six percent, which happens to be the current level.

Not so fast, say the tech giants

Apple, Facebook, and Google have data centers and other investments in North Carolina – and they are big supporters of clean energy in their industry. They made their position on the REPS perfectly clear in a recent letter to state lawmakers: Read More »

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Matching Veterans with Solar Jobs: Now that’s a Bright Idea

rp_construction-646465_640-300x200.jpgDuring the next five years, 200,000 service members will transition from active duty military to civilian life. They will need jobs. The solar industry is booming and needs skilled workers. The math is simple.

The recently announced Solar Ready Vets program aims to help transitioning service members pursue training in the solar industry, which is adding 30,000 jobs a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Solar Ready Vets will focus on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers and build on the technical skills that veterans acquired during service.  Solar Ready Vets is part of a larger DOE initiative to train 75,000 people for the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom are also veterans.

Initially, Solar Ready Vets will roll out at 10 military bases across the United States. Four bases in Colorado, California, Utah, and Virginia have been identified, and the other six will be selected based on the number of transitioning military personnel and strength of the solar market, among other things. Read More »

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In North Carolina, Walmart and Other Corporate Giants Call for Clean Energy Choices

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walmartcorporate/5250475208/Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.

The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:

  • Some of the country’s largest retailers – Walmart, Lowes, Target, Family Dollar, and Macy’s
  • Major manufacturers – Volvo, textile giant VF, Unilever, and New Belgium Brewing
  • Agriculture commodities giant Cargill

North Carolina’s current law prohibits companies from contracting with energy providers other than utilities. It’s easy to understand how that law squashes consumer choice and competition.

The 10 companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from providers other than utilities like Duke Energy and Dominion. Greater choice in the North Carolina electricity market would provide a wide range of benefits. For example, companies and homeowners would be able to lease rooftop solar panels from clean energy providers at little to no upfront cost and lock in long-term, stable electricity rates. Read More »

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Duke University Documents Widespread Benefits of North Carolina’s Solar Economy

solar-621744_640North Carolina’s number-one ranking in the Southeast for solar energy investment confirms the state is a national leader in attracting clean energy companies and creating jobs. But a top ranking does not fully reflect the broad range of benefits North Carolina’s large-scale solar industry is delivering to the state's manufacturing sectors and rural communities.

Now a report from Duke University documents how the state’s solar industry is boosting the bottom line of companies and communities across North Carolina.

The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina credits state policies such as the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit with stimulating economic development.

It highlights a recent economic impact assessment by RTI International showing that for every dollar of Investment Tax Credit redeemed by businesses, $1.93 has been returned to state and local governments. That’s a great deal for North Carolina.

The report spotlights three key findings: Read More »

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Utility Commission Ruling to Continue Growth of North Carolina Solar Industry in 2015

solar-cells-491701_640North Carolina’s ranking of #3 in the country for solar energy investment is receiving national attention and prompting some states in the Southeast to ask, "What is North Carolina's secret?"

The answer: clean energy policies that give solar companies the business certainty they need to make investments.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission did just that in an important ruling last week that keeps standard solar electricity purchase agreements in place. These contracts between utilities and solar developers typically last 15 years and cover solar projects up to five megawatts. They can make all the difference in whether a solar project is built and in a solar developer’s ability to grow and hire new workers.

Duke Energy and other North Carolina utilities sought to weaken the terms of these standard agreements, which are set by the Utilities Commission. The utilities asked the Commission to abandon requirements that they enter into long-term agreements with solar developers and sought to eliminate the ability of larger solar projects to participate. Read More »

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Lighting the Way to Energy Savings and Job Growth in North Carolina

By: Greg Andeck, EDF senior clean energy manager, and Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association

incandescent-72139_1280Rapid declines in the price of light emitting diodes (LED) technology suggest that the next generation of energy efficient lighting – LED bulbs – is on the verge of widespread adoption. LED bulbs will eventually make traditional, energy-hogging incandescent bulbs a thing of the past.

Price goes down, energy savings go up

In North Carolina, for example, one of the world’s largest LED bulb manufacturers, Cree, recently announced a new bulb that is up to 82 percent more efficient than an incandescent bulb. The bulb sells for about $8 at Home Depot, a price that means the bulb will pay for itself in energy savings in about a year.

That's a smart energy choice in the home – and a bargain. In 2013, the same wattage LED bulb was about $13, illustrating the dramatic cost reductions that are occurring throughout the industry.

Companies adopt efficient lighting

Some of the largest companies in the world are beginning to make LEDs the default lighting choice in their buildings. Food Lion and Walmart, for example, have introduced LED lights into their in-store refrigerators in North Carolina. LEDs emit very little heat, reducing electric bills in the refrigerated section. Read More »

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