North Carolina’s Clean Energy Economy Growing

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National and regional experts in clean energy development outlined the path to continuing momentum for North Carolina investments in solar and wind, in a press teleconference Thursday, said the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

National and regional experts in clean energy development outlined the path to continuing momentum for North Carolina investments in solar and wind, in a press teleconference Thursday.

The conversation follows the just-released Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)’s annual Solar Means Business report.

“Our Solar Means Business report shows a promising climate in North Carolina for increased solar energy investment,” said Ken Johnson, SEIA’s vice president of communications. “North Carolina currently ranks 4th in the nation in installed solar capacity – ahead of sun-rich states like Nevada and Hawaii – and there’s substantial momentum for new development, which will drive job creation and economic growth, while also helping to protect the environment.”

Apple has two large solar farms in North Carolina, producing 40 MW of clean electricity and powering its huge data center in Maiden. In SEIA’s report, Apple continues to lead the “Tech & Telecom” category of leading solar users by industry sector. “We’re making enough energy there to power 14,000 homes,” said Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s CEO, in previous comments. “People told us it couldn’t happen, it couldn’t be done – but we did it. It’s great for the environment, and by the way, it’s also good for economics.”

Stew Miller, president of Yes! Solar Solutions in Cary, said his solar design and installation business has been successful, in part, because of tax credits and financial incentives for home and business owners who take steps to make their residences or commercial properties more energy-efficient. With uncertainty surrounding the state solar tax credit, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, and net metering standards, Miller said it’s difficult to commit to future growth and hiring plans.

“We believe solar energy should be available to everyone regardless of their utility company. We hope state leaders will support businesses like ours by extending and enhancing North Carolina’s tax credit and adding other policy incentives that make solar accessible for more people,” Miller said. “Solar is becoming increasingly affordable, which has allowed our business to grow. To continue that trend over the next several years, we’ll need North Carolina’s elected officials to fight for clean energy.”

Renewable energy resources like solar and wind are reshaping the energy landscape in the state and the nation, and North Carolina has a unique opportunity to lead the Southeast to a clean energy future.
Our state has already become a national leader in solar. Companies invested $787 million in solar projects last year.

But enormous untapped potential for wind energy lies off North Carolina’s coast.

“North Carolina has the best offshore wind resource in the country,” said Ulla Reeves, North Carolina liaison for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We have enough wind potential to meet all the state’s current energy needs, so we need to prioritize clean energy now. The solar and wind industries have already brought thousands of jobs to our state. There’s enormous potential to grow the state’s economy without polluting our beautiful mountains, Piedmont or coast.”

Reeves also outlined a roadmap to policies necessary to continue the state’s clean energy momentum in the coming year:

  •     Legislation is needed to expand solar development, specifically to broaden access
  •     Protect the expansion of rooftop solar from attacks on North Carolina’s net metering policies
  •     Prevent any rollbacks to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard
  •     Develop a solar tax credit strategy to address the deadline for its expiration in 2015

North Carolina’s wind manufacturing industry is thriving, but the products are being sent to wind farms in other states.

“Wind energy is the fastest-growing source of electricity in the world,” said John Kostyack, executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation. “Now is the time to embrace these amazing opportunities. The future demands investment in solar and wind, and North Carolina is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this new era of clean, renewable energy.”

About SEIA:

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at http://www.seia.org.

Media Contacts:

Samantha Page, SEIA Press Officer and Communications Manager, spage(at)seia(dot)org (202) 556-2886
Aileo Weinmann, aileo(at)resource-media(dot)org (202) 965-6395
Bridget Whelan, bridget(at)ncconservationnetwork(dot)org (919) 857-4699 ext. 109

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