You may be aware that back in 2007, North Carolina adopted a renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS), the first of its kind in the Southeast.
As part of the state’s commitment to clean energy and sustainability, required utilities to produce a portion of their electricity from renewable resources such as solar energy, wind, or organic waste. This portfolio standard created a new market for many North Carolina based clean energy companies. Coupled with generous corporate tax credits (30% from the federal government, 35% from the state), North Carolina has provided a fertile ground for these new businesses to grow and thrive.
Currently, North Carolina ranks eighth in the nation in solar photovoltaic capacity. Over 1,200 photovoltaic systems are registered with the N.C. Utilities Commission and of those registered systems, over 250 are of commercial size.
SunEnergy1 is an example of a success story in the state’s nascent solar energy industry. The company launched in 2009 with two employees. Today, it has a total workforce of 130 (including contract labor) and projected 2012 revenues of $135 million. Founder and CEO Kenny Habul had decades of experience in construction back in his native Toronto. However, green construction and was only an auxiliary part of his business. The recession prompted Habul to turn them into the core of his business. The incentives provided by the state encouraged him to grow his new business here.
This short (1.11) video is a cool time-lapse footage of a SunEnergy1 2.5 MW solar system installation in Plymouth, NC. The project took 17 days and required four Schneider Electric GT-500 inverters and 9,800 Bosch 245-watt solar panels. The system produces enough energy to power over 300 homes.
See video link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AcNnux-_wH0
According to Kabul, North Carolina could provide even more incentives to grow the solar energy industry. One controversial suggestion would be to allow companies such as SunEnergy1 to sell electricity directly to consumers rather than use public utilities as middlemen. Current law mandates that only utilities may sell power to consumers.
Even without direct sales of solar energy, NC is still a leader in the solar movement.
Between the federal solar tax credit, the state solar tax credit, and energy bill savings, North Carolina, according to SolarPowerRocks.com, has one of the shortest payback timeframes “worthy of an “A” in everyone’s book”. You can’t beat that testimonial!
Video courtesy SunEnergy1. NC Solar Summary chart courtesy SolarPowerRocks.com.