Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten had a blog post this week on the interesting way some bills are moving through committees:
State regulators are threatening to revoke registrations of 112 renewable energy facilities because of incomplete paperwork.
The N.C. Utilities Commission today put the organizations on notice and gave them a July 1 deadline to file their annual certificates. Last year the commission revoked 18 green energy producers that were not properly certified to sell clean power in the state.
The organizations notified this time are among the 1,000 or so renewable facilities registered in the state, said James McLawhorn, director of the electric division of the Public Staff, the state's consumer advocacy agency in utility matters.
But the organizations on the list include some of the biggest and highly publicized green energy generators in the state, such as SAS Institute of Cary, Semprius of Durham, FLS Energy of Asheville, the City of Raleigh and Appalachian State University.
Contacted today, a SAS spokeswoman said the company is properly registered and blamed its appearance on the shame sheet as a glitch. The list was news to Raleigh assistant city manager Julian Prosser but he said the city has every intention of being registered and operating clean energy facilities. Both Raleigh and SAS operate large solar farms in the Triangle.
North Carolinians' spending on renewable energy doubled last year and has grown 25-fold just in the past five years, according to state tax data. Whether you approve of green energy or not, that's a remarkable transformation for a state in which solar panels were virtually unknown until recent years.
N.C. Department of Revenue data show that interest in renewable upgrades blasted off after the state legislature passed an energy law in 2007. The law requires electric utilities to buy output from solar panels, wind turbines and other private renewable generators.
The revenue data tracks state tax credits claimed every year on renewable investments. The state's 35 percent tax credit is considered one of the most generous in in the nation. Combined with a 30 percent federal tax credit, it reduces the cost of renewable project by more than half.
In 2011, North Carolina residents and businesses claimed $11.3 million in tax credits for renewable property. Such projects typically include solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal and wind turbines.
The 2011 credits doubled the previous year's, which came to $5.3 million. The 2010 credits again doubled from the year before, or $2.7 million in 2009.
The N.C. Sustainable Association is about to conduct a count of companies and jobs that make up the state's clean energy sector.
The Raleigh-based group will begin its annual census Friday, with emails sent out to about 1,800 companies it identifies as part of the sector. The organization will follow-up with phone calls to companies that don't respond to email.
Classifying and estimating the size of the green economy is an inexact science at best, resulting in widely divergent results, depending on criteria used. There is no uniform standard on what counts as a green job.
The sustainable energy association limits its definition to energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grid, green buildings and electric vehicles.
Progress Energy said today it is accepting proposals for electricity generated from wind farms in order to meet its state mandate for renewable energy.
The Raleigh-based electric utility said the minimum size of proposals it will consider is 5 megawatts, an industrial scale that represents a big boost to wind farm advocates in this state.
No wind farm of that size currently exists in North Carolina, but several much larger projects have been proposed, including an offshore wind farm that was approved by N.C. regulators earlier this year.
Progress said it will give preference to wind farms in North Carolina but will also consider out-of-state proposals as long as the electricity can be delivered to the company's transmission grid.
A green energy developer logged a request today for yet another giant solar farm in the state.
A company calling itself N.C. Renewable Energy wants to build a 1.9-megawatt solar farm in McDowell County, east of Asheville. The company expects the renewable enegy project to be generating electricity in one year, with Duke Energy paying for the green energy credits.
It wasn't long ago that a project of this size would generate big news. Today it would be the fourth largest solar farm in the state. The biggest is a 15.5-megawatt project in Davidson County that feeds into Duke Energy's power grid.
Last month a Chapel Hill company filed with the N.C. Utilities Commission to build a 4.5-megawatt solar farm in western North Carolina.
State officials this morning approved the construction of a 300-megawatt wind farm in eastern North Carolina, by far the single largest green energy project proposed in this state by many orders of magnitude.
The approval by the N.C. Utilities Commission is just the first of a numerous local, state and federal permits the Desert Wind Energy Project will need before it can proceed with building the proposed 150 turbines across 31 square miles of farmland in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.
If Desert Wind is built on schedule next year, it would be the first commercial-scale wind energy project in the Southeast and one of the biggest wind farms in the nation. It would generate enough power for 55,000 to 70,000 homes per year on average.
A solar energy farm in Person County, which officially opened today near Roxboro, will be one of the state's most publicly visible renewable energy facilities.
Progress Energy is buying the electricity generated by the 5-acre facility, enough to power about 60 homes, as part of a 20-year contract. The solar power plant began generating electricity eight days ago.
The 650-kilowatt facility, operated by Carolina Solar Energy of Durham, is not the state's largest. Progress Energy has signed a contract for a facility in Laurinburg that will be nearly four times bigger.
But the complex of angled photovoltaic panels at the Person County Business and Industrial Center is visible to passersby on Route 501. And this week, Carolina Solar Energy will launch a public web site that will provide real-time readouts showing how much energy the solar farm is generating, how much power it has generated to date, and how much carbon dioxide it's reducing by offsetting power from Progress Energy's coal-burning power plants.