Tag Archives: North Carolina

Duke Energy solar: NC, SC, and now Florida

Duke’s new solar farms in Florida echo what Duke was already doing three and a half years ago when an independent study concluded more solar power in North Carolina would save utility ratepayers tens of millions of dollars annually.


Duke solar power farm in Perry, Florida, courtesy Duke Energy

John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal, 23 October 2013, Study: Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC,

It notes the gains from solar projects — such as lower transmission and distribution costs, avoided emissions, lower losses of electricity in transmission. The study calculates that such benefits outweigh the costs by 30 percent to 40 percent.

The utility buying most of that solar power in North Carolina is none other than Duke Energy. Parcel 25-01S-11E-1090700.0000 In Florida, Duke just got approval from the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners to build a 62-acre 8.8 MW solar plant next to its Suwannee Power Plant, while shutting down some old natural gas generating turbines, and keeping some newer ones going.

As we learned only a week before at a meeting about the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) required by the Florida legislature, nitrogen runoff from fertilizers is a huge problem in the Suwannee River Basin, and needs to be reduced 80-90% from every source. Duke Energy (or even FPL) could buy power from distributed solar farms on 1030 more acres in Suwannee County and produce enough power to shut down the rest of its gas turbines at that Suwannee River facility, while generating enough power for twice the number of households in Suwannee County. That would remove power plant emissions and use of cooling water, while helping solve the BMAP problem.

No, I’m not recommending cutting down trees for solar panels. Rooftop solar power and solar panels on marginal farmland would make far more sense. As even Duke says, solar panels produce “little to no waste”, which means no fertilizer or pesticide runoff from them. Graze cows, sheep, or goats around them, and the farmer has income from both the solar panels and the livestock, while still needing no pesticides to control weeds. That’s what Sandy Hill Solar of Elm City, North Carolina does, and the utility buying their power is Duke Energy.

Duke by February 2015 had expanded its solar buying into South Carolina, and by October 2015 announced a new solar farm near Perry, Florida, Duke’s second such project in Florida, and operational in Perry by September 2016. Funny how solar plants can go online in less than a year, unlike the three-year-plus permitting process of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) lists numerous studies about the cost-effectiveness of solar power, including that North Carolina 2013 report, now with a copy on the LAKE website. SEIA also lists one for Virginia which is on the MDV-SEIA website, and now also has a copy on the LAKE website.

For Georgia SEIA lists the testimony of GSEIA before the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2013. See also other testimony at that same GA-PSC session, which resulted in GA-PSC requiring Georgia Power to buy twice as much solar power as it wanted to. GA-PSC did the same again in 2015, which was also the year Georgia Power finally stopped its dozen-year-long objections to fixing a 1970s law, and actively backed a 2015 version of that solar financing bill, which passed unanimously in the Georgia Senate and was signed by the same Georgia governor who had accepted campaign finance contributions from multiple pipeline company PACs. After the bill became law, Georgia Power started selling solar power.

Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Company is also installing solar power in the Florida panhandle through its subsidiary Gulf Power, including three projects at military bases totalling 120 MW.

All that is without even comparing solar power to natural gas pipelines such as Sabal Trail. I did that comparison, and I’m still watiing for somebody to show me any flaws in my arithmetic, which shows that FPL’s ratepayers, now stuck with a $3.2 billion bill for the Sabal Trail boondoggle, could get five times as much electricity through solar power at that price.

For Florida SEIA lists only a very old (2003) study with a broken link, which can be found as a google book, but now would mostly be worthwhile as a museum piece. Duke’s own actions in Florida in 2016 and 2017 indicate Duke Energy knows the sun is rising even on the Sunshine State.

Sure, Duke is going too slow (although not as slow as FPL). Duke’s “strategic, long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of universal solar by 2018, and up to 500 megawatts in the state by 2024” is pocket change for peanuts. Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s research project has spelled out what Florida (and each other U.S. state) needs in solar, wind, and water power to run everything, depicted on thesolutionsproject.org and backed up by a hundred-plus-page report.

The people of Florida are demanding more solar power. Tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel and utility money didn’t convince the voters of Florida to support a fake solar amendment last November. The sun is rising, even on the Sunshine State. All the dirty dollars and all the bought politicians can’t stop it.

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Beneath Woodland, NC solar

There’s more to the North Carolina solar town story: they have already approved other solar farms, one of which is almost built, and they approved the one in question once it was moved to a different location. And there are real reasons they are concerned about solar farms; reasons which solar developers can address (unlike pipeline companies).

Snopes reviewed the original story and found it mostly true. The town of Woodland posted its own update 14 December 2015, which clarifies what they were up to, concluding: Continue reading

Solar steals sunlight from plants! High school science teacher and Woodland, NC town council agree

Update 2015-12-23: There’s more to the story

Photosynthesis fails near solar panels, thinks a high school science teacher. And the Woodland, NC Town Council not only agreed with her and rejected a rezoning proposal for a solar farm, it passed a moratorium on future solar farms. Yet I bet they have fields all around sprayed with Roundup and other cancer-causing chemicals that actually do affect plants, animals, and people.

Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Woodland rejects solar farm,

Jane Mann said she is a local native and is concerned about the natural vegetation that makes the community beautiful.

She is a retired Northampton science teacher and is concerned that photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the vegetation from growing. She said she has observed areas near solar panels where vegetation is brown and dead because it did not receive enough sunlight.

She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

“I want to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I want information. Enough is enough. I don’t see the profit for the town.

“People come with hidden agendas,” she said. “Until we can find if anything is going to damage this community, we shouldn’t sign any paper.”

I guess she never noticed all the plants near Monsanto-seed fields are dead, most of the birds are gone, and all her students are fat from eating processed foods stuffed with high fructose corn syrup. But sure, solar panels are the problem.

Another local citizen brought up a real economic problem, but blamed the wrong culprit.

Bobby Mann said he watched communities dry up when I-95 came along and warned that would happen to Woodland because of the solar farms.

As Eric Berger pointed out in ars technical, there don’t actually seem to be any solar farms now in or near Woodland, NC.

Back to Bobby Mann:

“You’re killing your town,” he said. “All the young people are going to move out.”

Well, there is a real problem with rural communities losing jobs and citizens to cities. But he’s pointing at the wrong culprit.

He said the solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.

I wonder what advertising your local government acts on wildly inaccurate misinformation will do to businesses thinking about locating in Woodland?

This is what happens when people believe corporate propaganda:

Mayor Kenneth Manual called for the vote, which was 3-1 against rezoning the land (the mayor only votes in case of a tie).

The council later voted for a moratorium on future solar farms.

I’d guess businesses would go somewhere else, after the many news stories about this incident.

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Duke Energy expands solar stake from NC to SC

Duke Energy, purported big customer of FPL and Spectra’s Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle, is expanding into solar financing for commercial projects, and from North Carolina into South Carolina. After even FPL’s parent bought a Hawaii utility to get into the solar game, why would anybody want to waste time, money, eminent domain land takings, trees cut down, or the hazards of sinkholes, leaks, and explosions near schools and businesses when we can all go straight to faster, cheaper, and far safer and cleaner solar power?

First this: Jennifer Runyon, Renewable Energy World, 9 February 2015, Duke Energy Takes Equity Stake in REC Solar, Embraces Distributed Generation: The move gives REC Solar a cash injection, $225 million in funds available to finance commercial projects, and a streamlined process to deliver solar projects more quickly.,

The largest utility in the U.S. is doubling down on distributed solar by taking an equity stake in commercial solar developer, REC Solar. The companies announced today that Duke will now own a majority stake of REC Solar and that together they will make it easier for commercial customers to go solar. In 2013, Duke Energy invested in Continue reading

Fixing climate change is profitable

Batteries are just one of many reasons, including electric vehicles, smart grid, solar and wind power (including pass HB 57 and you can profit by getting financing for your own solar panels), plus massive savings on health care and electricity bills; batteries are one of many reasons that fixing climate change will save us all money, clean up our air and water, expand our forests, preserve property rights, and make some people rich:

In fact, a recent report suggests that revenue from the distributed energy storage market — meaning battery packs and other storage devices located directly at homes and businesses (many of which now generate electricity through solar) — could exceed $16.5 billion by 2024. Another report predicts $68 billion in revenue in the same time frame from the grid-scale storage market. This includes large-scale battery packs, hydro-storage systems that use cheap abundant electricity to pump water uphill to drive turbines later on, or even solar thermal systems that store energy as heat in molten salt.

And it’s all happening fast, so fast your jaw will drop if you’re not paying attention. So let’s stop talking about the costs of fixing climate change. It’s not just no-cost and free, not just in the future but right now; we’re all actually going to be better off through fixing climate change: healthier and more prosperous.

Sami Grover wrote Continue reading

Solar is now competitive with … natural gas –Crossborder Energy study

Colorado, California, North Carolina: when will Georgia catch up in solar power? What will it take to get the Georgia legislature to realize all Georgians will benefit economically from much more solar power than GA PSC in July required Georgia Power to buy? And why should we permit a methane gas pipeline to gash through Georgia to profit executives in Houston and Juno Beach, Florida when we could be deploying solar everywhere in Georgia for local jobs, profit, lower electric bills, and clean air and water?

Here’s the study that showed solar benefits outweigh costs in North Carolina, The Benefits and Costs of Solar Generation for Electric Ratepayers in North Carolina, by R. Thomas Beach and Patrick G. McGuire for Crossborder Energy, 18 October 2013.

Wholesale solar PPA prices provide perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the continued decline in solar PV costs. Solar PPA prices have fallen dramatically over the past several years, to the point that, in some regions of the U.S., solar is now competitive with other generation resources, including wind and natural gas. Xcel Energy in Colorado recently announced that it is proposing to add 170 MW of utility-scale solar to its system, with its CEO stating “[f]or the first time ever, we are adding cost competitive utility scale solar to the system.”33 The California electric utilities make public each year the average PPA prices for renewable contracts approved by the CPUC in the prior year. Figure 3 shows the trend in the prices for their solar PV PPAs; CPUC contract approval can occur up to a year or more after bids are received, so the figure is indicative of prices through roughly 2011.34 2012 solicitations for solar PPAs in California in the 3 MW to 20 MW size range through the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) have yielded market-clearing prices in the 8 to 9 cents per kWh range.3

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) conducts and publishes regular national surveys of the installed costs of solar PV; these surveys include Continue reading

Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC

And the same is true in Georgia, despite Georgia Power and Southern Company.

John Downey wrote for Charlotte Business Journal 23 October 2013, Study: Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC

An independent study published by a nationally known energy consultant asserts that adding 500 megawatts of solar generation in North Carolina would save utility ratepayers about $26 million annually.

It notes the gains from solar projects — such as lower transmission and distribution costs, avoided emissions, lower losses of electricity in transmission. The study calculates that such benefits outweigh the costs by 30 percent to 40 percent.

Update 2017-04-25: Energy NC seems to have removed or moved its copy of that report, but fortunately SEIA lists it on a backup website, and I’ve linked it into the quotation above, plus a copy on the LAKE website. SEIA also lists many other studies for other states, such as one for Virginia which is on the MDV-SEIA website, and now also has a copy on the LAKE website. For Georgia SEIA lists the testimony of GSEIA before the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2013. For Florida SEIA lists only a very old (2003) study with a broken link, which can be found as a google book, but now would mostly be worthwhile as a museum piece. Duke’s own actions in Florida in 2016 and 2017 indicate Duke Energy knows the sun is rising even on the Sunshine State.

The study considered two intertwined solar methods: Continue reading

Nash County, NC has agendas and minutes for many local boards online

A county no bigger than Lowndes County has agendas and minutes online for its Board of Commissioners, Board of Health, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Board of Adjustment, Board of Elections, Social Services Board, and yes, its Planning Board. Why can Nash County, NC afford this yet Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter says Lowndes County can’t afford to put agendas and minutes online for the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission? And if a county can require a solar farm to follow stormwater management and numerous other regulations, why can’t a county require a natural gas pipeline to follow local regulations? It can, if its elected officials actually stand up for their citizens. And why can Nash County, quite a bit north of Lowndes County, install solar farm after solar farm while there are none in Lowndes County?

The Nash County online documents also include the details of what the various boards were considering, such as in the Agenda and Minutes of the Nash County Planning Board 21 October 2013, which include this item:

  1. Conditional Use Permit Request CU-130901 (Previously Tabled Item).
    Made by Chris Killenberg With Community Energy Solar on Behalf of Castalia Solar LLC to Develop a Solar Farm on an Approximately 22.91 Acre Portion of Two Tracts Located on the West Side of N NC Highway 58 and South of NC Highway 56 in the A1 Agricultural Zoning District.

And not just the agenda item, also extended discussion in the meeting, including: Continue reading

Sandy Hill Solar, Elm City, NC

Can’t miss this driving north on I-95: acres of solar panels next to the highway, paying a local farmer for decades.

MacDonald wrote for enerG September/October 2012, Solar picking upsteam in the U.S. South,

The Sandy Cross solar farm is the most recent project completed by O2energies, a mid-sized Charlotte-based solar development firm that has built a reputation for combining sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy production on farms in the southeastern U.S. The company owns and operates several solar farms in North Carolina.

The company’s president, Joel Olsen, notes that agriculture and energy production can complement each other. Solar farms have a low profile, are noiseless, produce no pollution, and consume no water.

Olsen points out an interesting fact: solar farms can often be Continue reading

Harris nuke flaw “fixed” that wasn’t found for a year

Less than 500 miles from here in NC, what else haven’t they found if ‘Duke Energy’s examination a year ago “was supposed to have found that problem then and fixed it”‘? This was a ‘a quarter-inch spot the NRC and the company describe as a “flaw” in the reactor vessel head, which contains heat and pressure produced by the nuclear core’s energy.’ When a solar panel has a quarter-inch flaw, you get a tiny percentage less electricity, not the risk of radiation leak or worse. Would you rather have two more nukes at the same site, run by the same company that can’t run the one it’s got safely, or solar power instead?

Plus where is the advantage of baseload capacity when Harris 1 has only been up 27.41% for the past month (NRC data), which is hardly better than the approximately 20% sun hours per day for solar power in North Carolina this time of year. Given the low and continually-dropping cost of solar panels, Duke could simply over-provision distributed solar panels and get way more than 20% or 27.41% effective power, and get that on budget and on time.

Harris 1 7% last 27.41% for the month

Emery P. Dalesio wrote for AP yesterday, Harris nuclear plant in U.S. is safe to restart after reactor problem found, Continue reading