Energy Exchange

North Carolina celebrates ‘American Wind Week’ with optimism for the future

Governor Roy Cooper has issued a proclamation recognizing August 5-11 as “American Wind Week” here in North Carolina. It’s a good time to reflect on our clean energy progress – as a nation and as a state – and to consider what’s next.

The amount of energy generated from wind turbines has more than tripled in the United States in the last decade, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), representing 6.3 percent of the nation’s generation mix last year. The Tar Heel state can take credit for a tiny portion of that with the 104 turbines generating power at the Amazon East Wind Farm near Elizabeth City, but we are lagging behind with wind representing only 0.4 percent of our state’s energy mix. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, General / Comments are closed

As moratorium on North Carolina wind power winds down, economic opportunity appears on the horizon

I’ve never been more optimistic about wind power in North Carolina and the benefits it will bring our state. And, given that we’re in the middle of a very unfortunate 18-month moratorium on wind project permits, that’s saying something.

I’m optimistic because the benefits of wind power are making themselves crystal clear. Here are few of the highlights:

More money for individuals and communities

In Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, Avangrid Renewables — the operator of the Amazon Wind Farm — has become the largest taxpayer after just one year of operation. Avangrid’s $520,000 annual local tax payments provide a big boost for the community, because they create new opportunities for investments in local schools, fire departments, and public safety services. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Rural communities need internet access, and rural electric co-ops are providing it

When I stop for a quick bite back home in rural North Carolina, I know the restaurant crowd is not always an indication of how great the food is. Often people are there for the free internet connectivity because access is very limited in the community.

The digital divide between those who have internet at home and those who do not occurs in both rural and urban areas. It is markedly apparent in rural communities, where nearly 40 percent of residents lack access to broadband, compared to 4 percent in cities.

As a result of the digital divide, rural communities are suffering, yet are coping in innovative ways with the help of strong leadership from rural electric cooperatives. More than 900 member-owned, non-profit rural electric co-ops today represent more than 42 million people in 47 states.

Rural electric co-ops are more than just poles and wires; they are economic drivers for the communities they serve. They are in the business of not only providing energy, but also social and economic benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Equity, Energy Innovation / Read 1 Response

Clean energy is lowering electric bills in North Carolina – but this solar trade war could reverse that trend

North Carolina’s in the middle of a clean energy boom, but the looming threat of an international trade war may leave the state’s incredible success story a few chapters short.

Over the last few months, two floundering solar manufacturers petitioned the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) to take action against foreign competitors. These companies want the United States to levy tariffs on imported solar products because they can’t match the cheaper prices. Recently, the ITC agreed with the companies’ complaint and recommended to President Trump a 30 percent tariff.

President Trump will decide this month what to do – he can follow the ITC recommendation, but, by law, doesn’t have to. He should reject the tariffs, so North Carolina’s clean energy economy can continue to thrive. Read More »

Also posted in Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

How solar helped a church pull out of the red and steward the community

This summer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) collaborated with First Baptist Church in Mount Olive, North Carolina to host an event to explore the new opportunities solar energy is providing for the church and Wayne County.

We spent most of the day together and heard how First Baptist Church is benefitting from solar energy projects situated a couple of miles from the church. The church has provided land for two solar installations, built by Birdseye Renewable Energy and owned and operated by Strata Solar, a Chapel-Hill based solar developer. The solar farm we all toured generates more than 10,000 MWh of energy every year.

Speakers included Senior Pastor Dennis Atwood and Angelo San Fratello, President of Trustees.

"It's a matter of stewardship for us and we didn't want the land to be developed for some purpose that would be contrary to the mission of our church," Atwood said. "And solar farming is clean energy, and it's a good use of the earth and it essentially goes back to providing power for almost an entire town." Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

“We Don’t Do Green”

NC Heros Fund

John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant (fourth from left), pictured with fellow Board members of the NC Heroes Fund, which provides grants to service members and their families who are experiencing financial difficulties as they transition from active duty back into civilian life.

By: John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant

I cringed when I read this quote, attributed to a senior military representative in Scientific American. I understood what he was trying to say, but the sound bite could easily be misinterpreted.

The Department of Defense (DoD) most certainly “does green,” and it has for some time now. At the highest level of leadership, there is recognition that energy and environmental conservation is important. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reinforced and brought to the forefront the importance of energy planning and, more importantly, its use and integration by our deployed forces. Furthermore, improved energy planning and use has played a significant role in reducing costs and improving the efficiency, resiliency, and security of military bases, facilities, and other installations that prepare DoD forces for their missions. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Military, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Read 2 Responses