North Carolina Leads South, 2nd in Nation in New Solar Installations

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Proving that effective, forward-looking public policies can provide a big boost to a state’s economy, North Carolina had the second most new solar capacity added last year in the United States, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review, and now stands poised to become the first state in the South to have 1 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar. “North Carolina is a case study of how solar works as well on the East Coast as it does on the West Coast – with the Tar Heel State now having more installed solar capacity than Oregon and Washington combined,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Proving that effective, forward-looking public policies can provide a big boost to a state’s economy, North Carolina had the second most new solar capacity added last year in the United States, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review, and now stands poised to become the first state in the South to have 1 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar.

In 2014, North Carolina added 397 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 953 MW – just 47 MW short of cracking the 1 GW barrier. That’s enough clean, affordable energy to power more than 110,000 homes. The report went on to point out that North Carolina’s biggest solar gains came in utility-scale installations. Of the new capacity added, 390 MW were utility scale, 4 MW were residential and 3 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $652 million investment in the state in 2014.

“North Carolina is a case study of how solar works as well on the East Coast as it does on the West Coast – with the Tar Heel State now having more installed solar capacity than Oregon and Washington combined,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 953 MW installed today in North Carolina is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement.”

North Carolina’s notable solar projects include:

  • Apple’s Data Center Solar Farm in Maiden was developed by SunPower. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 20 MW of electricity — enough to power more than 2,200 North Carolina homes.
  • At 20 MW, Capital Partners Solar Project is among the largest solar installations in North Carolina. Recently completed by SunEnergy, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power nearly 2,000 homes.
  • Several large retailers in North Carolina have also gone solar, including Verizon, SAS and IKEA.
  • Apple has installed one of the largest corporate PV systems in the state with 20 MW of solar capacity at its location in Maiden.

The residential market also began to show some promise last year, with installed system prices dropping again – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. But the big driver in the state’s solar market has been in utility-scale installations. A recent study by Duke University found that North Carolina now has 150 utility-scale solar facilities, with another 377 facilities planned. "Our assessment of the North Carolina utility-scale solar value chain finds that at least $2 billion in direct investment has been made in the state, affecting at least 4,307 direct jobs in 450 companies,” the report stated.

From an environmental perspective, solar installations in North Carolina are helping to offset nearly 1 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing more than 200,000 cars off state roads and highways.

“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The Duke study also found that $1.93 has been returned to state and local governments for every $1 spent on North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit. By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. and state economies and our environment.”

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About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 41st anniversary in 2015, 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:

Ken Johnson, SEIA Vice President of Communications, kjohnson(at)seia(dot)org (202) 556-2885

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