Ambitious Solar Program Needed in N.C.

Guest Blog | October 22, 2008 | Press Releases

Asheville, N.C. – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is disappointed by the North Carolina Utility Commission (NCUC) Public Staff’s recommendation, and Duke Energy’s decision to cut its goal for a rooftop solar power program in half.

“The potential for solar power to be a major part of our energy mix improves every day,” said Stephen Smith, Executive Director of SACE. “While costs continue to come down and the performance of this technology goes up, there has never been a better time for North Carolina to embrace this important renewable energy option.”

The revised Duke proposal will be considered by the NCUC, Thursday Oct. 23, in response to the newly enacted Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). The initial proposal had called for 16-20 MW and a 100 million dollar investment in solar energy. SACE believes that the effort envisioned in Duke Energy’s initial proposal was in line with the North Carolina General Assembly’s vision to aggressively increase the state’s use of solar energy.

The price per watt of crystalline solar modules is approaching $4/watt today, down from $27/watt in 1982. And according to data from the New Jersey Office of Clean Energy, commercial-scale solar photovoltaic system prices dropped an average of 3.3 percent per year between 2003 and 2007. It can be expected that as solar prices decline, and the capital and fuel costs for coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants rise, the U.S. will reach a crossover point by around 2015.

“SACE supports both utility owned and privately owned systems growing in the market,” said Smith. “We should evaluate this as a market test to see which pathway receives the most customer value and stimulates the greatest economic development in North Carolina.”

SACE agrees with other organizations active in the hearing, including Vote Solar, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the Solar Alliance, that private, non-utility investment should also be mobilized to build North Carolina’s solar energy future.

Solar energy projects, coupled with meaningful energy efficiency implementation, are critical to insulating electricity customers from the soaring costs of conventional power plant construction and spiking fossil fuel charges. Solar energy projects will deliver cleaner energy while driving renewable energy technology investment and job creation in North Carolina. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization thatpromotes responsible energy choices that create global warmingsolutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughoutthe Southeast.