Town rejects solar farm because it will ‘suck up all the energy from the sun’ and other concerns

city council solar vote

North Carolina is one of the more progressive, up-and-coming states for solar energy development. We even started a slow clap when it hit 1 GW. But word of this has not yet spread to the town of Woodland, which just voted to reject a proposal to rezone a section of land in order to turn it into a solar farm. The proposal was tabled by the planning board, which was recommending development by Strata Solar. You may know Strata Solar for hiring 188 workers in North Carolina recently. Something to keep in mind.

According to this great news story from the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald, Woodland is sought after because it has an electrical substation, and three other solar farms had previously been accepted by the town council. But those good feelings have ended. Later in the meeting, the council even voted for a “complete moratorium on solar farms.”

And then things got a little crazy, as citizens came forward with some troubling concerns. From the News Herald:

Mary Hobbs has been living in Woodland for 50 years and said she has watched it slowly becoming a ghost town with no job opportunities for young people. She said her home is surrounded by solar farms and is no longer worth its value because of those facilities. She added that the only people profiting are the landowners who sell their land, the solar companies, and the electrical companies.

The next speakers were Bobby and Jane Mann. Jane Mann said she is a local native and is concerned about the plants that make the community beautiful. She is a retired Northampton science teacher and is concerned that photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the plants from growing. She said she has observed areas near solar panels where the plants are brown and dead because they did not get enough sunlight.

She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

“I want to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I want information. Enough is enough. I don’t see the profit for the town.

Another citizen opined that these solar farms would “suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.”

Yikes. Have any of you encountered similar resistance or backlash in any of the areas in which you do business? Or are these concerns abnormal these days?

— Solar Builder magazine

Ecoplexus to construct 25-MW project in North Carolina

Ecoplexus North Carolina

Ecoplexus Inc. announced the closing of financing for a 25-MW solar PV project in Whitakers, N.C. The project will be installed with approximately 150,000 Solar Frontier modules and will achieve commercial operation in late 2015. Its completion will mark the ninth Ecoplexus project in North Carolina and a total of 53 MW in Q4 2015. Representing $45 million in project costs, the project increases Ecoplexus’ current IPP asset base which will stand at 77 MWs by year-end.

Ecoplexus develops, owns and operates solar PV projects for the utility and industrial markets in the U.S. and Japan via its wholly owned subsidiary Ecoplexus Japan KK. The company has developed and financed over 50 projects to date. Customers include major utilities such as PG&E, Duke, Progress, Xcel Energy, and Georgia Power and approximately 15 municipalities in the U.S.

RELATED: North Carolina hits 1 GW of solar capacity (we start slow clap) 

The project has a signed long-term PPA contract with Dominion North Carolina Power. Once fully operational, the system will provide North Carolina with approximately 40 GWh of clean electricity annually, enough to power an estimated 3,800 households. The renewable power generated will offset 27,404 metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions sequestered from nearly 23,000 acres of forest annually.

“We are pleased to contribute to Dominion’s renewable energy portfolio and play a role in providing North Carolinians with affordable clean energy,” said John Gorman, CEO of Ecoplexus. “With our office in Durham, NC and our projects in the region, we are committed to delivering real and lasting benefits to North Carolina and neighboring states.”

Charles Pimentel, COO of Solar Frontier Americas commented, “We are pleased our advanced CIS modules were selected for this PV project developed by Ecoplexus, a company dedicated to building high quality, clean-energy plants.”


— Solar Builder magazine

North Carolina hits 1 GW of solar capacity (we start slow clap)

North Carolina’s growing clean energy industry reached a new milestone this week with the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), a leading 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to shaping the state’s clean and efficient energy future, reporting installed solar capacity officially exceeds 1 GW. The state, whose solar industry accounts for more than $1.6 billion in revenue, follows California, Arizona, New Jersey as the fourth in the nation to reach the threshold, and is number one in the Southeast.

“Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina’s clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching one gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market,” said Robin Aldina, NCSEA’s Manager of Energy Research.

Strong energy policies, including the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), and the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (REITC), are largely credited for the vast growth of North Carolina’s solar market in the past decade. The result of this growth is taking shape in the form of jobs, local economic impacts, and long-term reliable energy infrastructure for the state. According to NCSEA’s 2014 Clean Energy Industry Census, North Carolina’s solar industry accounts for over 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs, with 450 clean energy firms reporting solar-related activity in the state.

According to NCSEA, North Carolina has 1.04 GW installed capacity as of September 24. The gigawatt news comes at an interesting time for the state’s policy landscape, with the NC General Assembly recently determining to include a sunset of the REITC provision in next year’s budget. NCSEA will devote a significant amount of time to a dialogue about the current state of the North Carolina solar and other clean energy markets at its upcoming Making Energy Work: Power Forward conference to be held October 6-7 in Raleigh, NC.

“This policy shift is not the first time our clean energy economy has faced challenges,” said Allison Eckley, NCSEA’s communications manager. “However, we know this is a resilient industry. North Carolina clean energy firms have overcome multiple policy threats in an uncertain business climate to achieve tremendous growth in jobs and revenues since 2008.”

“Firms indicate factors such as the quality of research and development collaboration, and the impact of our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) – which remains intact and on track to reach its goals by 2021 – are key contributors to this growth. We see a bright future for North Carolina’s one-gigawatt solar market, and the host of other clean energy and energy efficiency resources driving our energy economy forward.”

NCSEA will provide exclusive updates on the policy and market implications for North Carolina’s evolving clean energy economy, including solar, at Making Energy Work. Agenda highlights include a first-look at the upcoming 2015 Clean Energy Industry Census results, a policy update featuring NC General Assembly members, and state, regional and national market intelligence insights from Clean Edge.

— Solar Builder magazine

Principal Solar, Entropy Investment to co-develop 100-MW facility in N.C.

Principal SolarPrincipal Solar, a solar power developer and operator, has agreed to terms to co-develop its first major solar asset with affiliates of Entropy Investment Management LLC. The 100-MW facility, located in Cumberland County, N.C., will produce enough electricity to power approximately 20,000 average American homes.

Construction began the week of Aug. 17, 2015, and the project is expected to begin generating power before the end of 2015. In the transaction, PSI will continue to play an important role in completing the project’s development phase and sold its interest in the project to affiliates of Entropy.

“This agreement with affiliates of Entropy represents a significant milestone for the Company,” says Michael Gorton, CEO, PSI. “We have established a relationship with a high-caliber team of solar and finance professionals at Entropy, and have positioned PSI to build additional utility-scale projects with them. This is the next major step toward our goal of owning and operating gigawatts of solar electricity generation.”

PSI will continue to manage important relationships needed to build the project and will oversee the achievement of critical development milestones drawing upon its more than 50 years of expertise building and connecting power generation facilities to the transmission grid.

“PSI’s team has done a great job of getting this project ready to build. The team’s expertise will continue to be pivotal to completion on our accelerated schedule. PSI has demonstrated a commitment to seeing this project through and at the same time is positioning itself to leverage the success of this project for its own future growth. We are very excited about the opportunity to be a part of this marquee project as well as future endeavors,” said Lewis Reynolds, managing partner, Entropy.

— Solar Builder magazine

Carolina CAT in final stages of Shelby, N.C., solar farm

North Carolina solar

Carolina CAT Power Systems, a provider of service, parts and sales of power generation equipment, is completing the final stages of construction for a new 10-acre solar farm in Shelby, N.C. Scheduled to open in late June 2015, the site will contain 9,828 panels and produce 3 MW DC of electricity, enough to power approximately 250 homes, which will be procured by Duke Energy and added back to the North Carolina power grid.

Carolina CAT Power Systems worked closely with local and national organizations to make this green energy initiative happen. Since project inception, Syncarpha Capital has supported Carolina CAT Power Systems across the project lifecycle, from acquisition, to financing and development, to commercialization.

Yingli Solar provided the solar panels, WB Moore built the electrical systems and Gehrlicher Solar America Corp. supported with contracting services. Carolina CAT Rental Store supported the project by providing Caterpillar construction equipment to grade and prepare the land for installation. The group worked with Shelby-based Dicey Mills to get trees cleared, thus reducing shade on the panels and ensuring higher site production. The North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources as well as the City of Shelby helped with planning, permitting and zoning. Power Products & Solutions will manage the system maintenance. Syncarpha will operate and provide asset management services for the life of the project.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the renewable energy movement, especially when it’s in our own backyard,” said Edward Weisiger, Jr., CEO of Carolina CAT Power Systems, a CTE company. “We’ve had the privilege of serving the equipment needs of the Carolinas for over 85 years, and this project marks our continued service in the construction, utility and road building industries. Shelby and Cleveland County have been a key part of our success over the years and we are very pleased to be invested there.”

This project is reflective of the current solar farm boom in North Carolina. The state ranks third in the nation with respect to the amount of solar power on the state’s grid. This is due in part to a state law mandating that, by the year 2020, one eighth of all power produced by Duke Energy must come from renewable energy.

“We are proud to be part of this green initiative – by using renewable energy, reducing waste and preserving our natural resources, we are helping to protect our planet, now and for generations to come. Being good stewards of the beautiful planet on which we all live and work is crucial,” said Mike Brown, Carolina CAT Power Systems General Manager.

— Solar Builder magazine