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Charlotte takes big step toward solar

Charlotte takes big step toward solar
December 23, 2019 Allison Andrews

I’ve been a fan of all things energy-efficient long before it was cool or trendy. I even put a metal roof on a historic renovation we did back in 2013. Solar panels? Yep, big fan.  So it’s no surprise that I was thrilled to hear the city of Charlotte is working on a deal to buy solar power as part of Duke Energy’s Green Source Advantage program. The program is for large electricity users. The deal would cover 20 years. The power would come from a proposed 35-megawatt solar project in Statesville.

If it goes through, Charlotte would be the first municipality to participate in the program. As if I didn’t already love Charlotte enough! Actually, North Carolina as a whole is a solar leader. In fact, it ranks second in the nation for installed solar capacity. Fayetteville recently actually built a solar farm. Customers get credit on their bills for the power those panels produce. Residents who sign up and pay the monthly fee for one panel will see a return on investment in about 20 months.

According to Charlotte’s Office of Sustainability, one solar project would get the city a quarter of the way to its goal to have municipal buildings 100% powered by carbon-free energy by 2030.

Most of the folks involved have given this new solar project the green light but there are a few more steps to the finish line.

The N.C. Utilities Commission will have the final say along with Duke Energy. Then Charlotte City Council will have to take a formal vote on the contract once it’s ready to be signed. There shouldn’t be any opposition from the council since they are trying to make the city a leader in clean energy. Have I mentioned how much I love this city? Go green!

As for the proposed solar farm. Carolina Solar estimates that construction costs will total about $35 million. If approved, it will be built on 515 acres off Tomlin Road in Statesville.  Olin Creek Solar Farm as it would be called would eliminate the carbon equivalent of 12,000 vehicles, and it provides enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

The Green Source Advantage program has had its critics. Some clean energy advocates have criticized certain fees and the structure, leaving some to wonder how many people will actually use it. Duke says they are encouraged by the number of businesses that have shown interest since the program officially started accepting applications in October.

The more solar energy we use the less we rely on unsafe, unclean sources like fossil fuels (think coal and gas), the less pollution we churn out in the world. If you don’t understand all the ways solar can make an impact, check this out!   

In the meantime, I’ll be doing a happy dance in my energy-efficient home and cheering Charlotte to victory over this solar initiative.