Renewable Energy

solar panels
Strata Solar

Duke Energy is investing $500 million in solar power generation in North Carolina.

Three new large-scale solar facilities will be built in Bladen, Wilson, and Duplin Counties. The 65 megawatt facility in Duplin will be the largest solar plant east of the Mississippi.

Due to a state law passed in 2007, Duke and other utilities must source at least 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

“We choose solar today because solar is the cheapest renewable energy certificate available to us,” said Duke Energy Vice President Rob Caldwell.

A picture of a man charging an electric car.
David Dodge / Green Energy Futures via Creative Commons

Eight different auto manufacturers and 15 different utility companies are teaming up with the Electric Power Research Institute to test technology that will allow them to determine when electric cars can recharge.

Trees in Chapel Hill,
Laura Candler

The EPA proposed sweeping changes to the country's carbon emission regulations. The coal is to cut carbon pollution by 30% by 2030 - relying more heavily on renewable energy sources to generate electricity.

Jonas Monast is the Director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute. He says that North Carolina is well positioned for the changes that will be required.

A solar panel, renewable energy

Renewable energy generators have channeled hundreds of millions of kilowatt hours into the North Carolina power grid. That's since the NC GreenPower program was founded 10 years ago.

The initiative collects donations from companies, citizens and utility customers to buy renewable energy and diversify the state's power grid.

NC Solar Center Director Steve Kalland is on the board for NC GreenPower. He said the program has also helped utilities warm up to renewable power providers. 

NCSU students study an array of solar panels on top of the NSF FREEDM Systems Center.
Marc Hall / North Carolina State University

Raleigh might soon have a group-purchasing program that would make it cheaper for residents to install solar panels on their homes. North Carolina Solar Center Director Steve Kalland  says solar power is popular among state utilities. They save money buying the costly technology in bulk. Kalland says homeowners are also interested in using cheaper, greener energy.

"The opportunity to do this has been somewhat constrained in North Carolina because the cost of these smaller-scale projects is somewhat higher than the large-scale projects," Kalland says.

Duke Energy provides electricity for most of North Carolina since the 2012 merger.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is introducing a program to provide its largest customers with renewable power.   The utility's 'Green Source Rider' initiative would give companies that use large amounts of power an option to use renewable energy in their new or expanded facilities.

Duke Energy will ask participating customers what their new power preference is: wind, solar or some other source.  Spokesman Jeff Brooks says it's then up to the utility to find them ample amounts..

The Seal of the State of North Carolina
North Carolina Government / North Carolina

A variety of measures aimed at weakening environmental protections are making their way through the General Assembly. One would limit environmental regulations while another would repeal a six-year-old renewable energy policy. Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is changing its mission statement to reflect an emphasis on customer service, a move some call anti-science.

  The North Carolina Renewables Program, instated in 2007, requires utility companies to produce a percentage of sales from efficiency efforts or renewable sources. The program has since pushed North Carolina up in solar farm research and also created jobs during a recession. Efforts to repeal the program have recently been introduced to the House and Senate, claiming that the programs will have a negative impact on the economy.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' pier near Duck, NC.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers /

A renewable energy company says it's testing a prototype that could produce energy from ocean waves near the Outer Banks. 

Boston-based Resolute Marine Energy says it tested the equipment for two months off the coast of Duck this winter.  Engineer Cliff Goudey says the device has a large piece of fiberglass that waves back and forth like a barn door.

"It sits out on the bottom offshore just outside the breaking wave zone," Goudey says.

Mayberry Solar Farm in Mt. Airy

Mt. Airy is now the site of a 1.2 megawatt solar farm capable of producing power to the equivalent of about 150 homes per year. John Morrison is Chief Operating Oficer for Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar.