Offshore Oil, Solar: Topics At State Energy Conference

Apr 22, 2015

North Carolina was second in the country last year in the amount of solar power that was installed.
Credit Duke Energy / Progress Energy

Energy experts and business executives are in Raleigh today for the State Energy Conference. It's a comprehensive event looking at the future of energy production in North Carolina.

That future could very well include offshore oil exploration. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is in the early stages of possibly selling oil drilling leases off the North Carolina coast.

“North Carolina is in the running for the state that requires the most attention after Alaska,” joked Abigail Hopper, the Director of BOEM and the conference’s first keynote speaker.

“That may or may not be a welcome moniker but we are happy to have you in the running.”

Two public meetings held by BOEM in North Carolina earlier this year in Wilmington and on the Outer Banks drew more than 1,000 people. The Kill Devil Hills event was the most heavily attended public information session held by BOEM this year.

Other topics at the State Energy Conference being held at NC State University include offshore wind, energy storage, and commercial rooftop solar growth.

North Carolina installed more solar capacity than all but one other state in the country last year–the vast majority of it industrial “ground mount” solar. Several issues, like net metering and third-party leasing, have kept the state from being a bigger player in rooftop solar.

“It’s exciting because we are at the birth of a new industry that’s going to have a dramatic impact in the way this country operates in the lifetimes of my children,” said Steve Kalland, the executive director of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.

Renewables are still a very small portion of the state’s overall energy mix. The Legislature is considering several policies that could speed up or slow down alternative energy.