North Carolina isn’t resting on its laurels as the No. 2 solar state in the country (according to the latest rankings by the Solar Energy Industries Association) – and Canadian Solar is helping it move forward.
The Chinese solar power company, which is constructing a 92 MW solar facility in Bladen and Cumberland counties near Fayetteville, N.C., announced it had secured $97 million to keep that project on track for commercial operation in the third quarter.
Once operational, the project will generate enough clean solar energy to power approximately 11,750 homes in the state.
North Carolina first jumped into the national solar spotlight last year when it surpassed Arizona after installing 115 MW in the second quarter. As pv magazine has reported, the state’s friendly regulatory framework, as well as Duke Energy’s commitment to increasing the amount of solar built in the state.
Many industry observers also credit the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) with fueling the growth of solar in North Carolina. PURPa encourages states to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by requiring that utilities build or purchase renewable-energy generation and efficient cogeneration if the option is equal or cheaper than the cost of building a new fossil-fuel plant.
The influence of PURPA has, however, not been without its own controversy, especially when it clashes with Duke’s solar interests. The utility has long held that PURPA, despite its success, is not a perfect law, and Duke has a few “nuances” of the law it would like to see modified. Despite its reservations, the utility does understand PURPA’s role in promoting solar in the state and does not want to dismantle it.
Solar development has also been driven by a 64% drop in solar prices in the state, which has led to almost 3% of the homes in the state being powered by the sun.
According to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, North Carolina is currently home to 7,112 solar jobs, including 3,326 installation jobs. The number of solar jobs in the state grew 19.5% in 2016.