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City Council considers solar farm for Raleigh

Posted July 26, 2009
Updated July 27, 2009

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— Land in southeast Raleigh could soon be home to a 1.3-megawatt solar power plant that would provide enough electricity for some 1,000 homes.

The project would be similar to a solar farm near the SAS campus on Trenton Road in Cary.

“It feeds energy directly onto Progress Energy power lines, and it is used by neighbors and the SAS facility,” said Bob Kingery, co-founder and director of operations for Southern Energy Management.

Council considers solar farm for Raleigh Council considers solar farm for Raleigh

The 1-megawatt system at SAS tracks the sun through the day, generating enough clean, green electricity to power about 200 homes.

SAS worked with Morrisville-based Southern Energy Management to build the farm last year. It is one of the largest solar energy projects in North Carolina with more than 5,000 solar panels generating months of megawatt hours.

Earlier this month, the Raleigh City Council agreed to lease 10 acres of land for a similar solar plant at the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Southern Energy Management is teaming with Progress Energy to build that plant, which could be operation by early 2010. It is a move that could pay off for the city.

"They'll have the opportunity to buy the system, and then be the long-term owner and beneficiary of the power that it generates and the income stream that it generates,” Kingery said.

Progress Energy will own and operate the plant, which is the fifth one it has announced under North Carolina law that mandates use of renewable energy resources.

State law requires Progress and other utilities to begin producing power from renewable sources. Progress Energy is exploring solar, wind, biowaste and other options to produce power from renewable sources. By 2012, companies have to get 3.5 percent of all retail sales from so-called renewables. The requirement jumps to 12.5 percent by 2021.

"As the price of energy rises, as the price of electricity rises, I think we will see solar becoming more and more main stream,” Kingery said.

The project is expected to create some 15 jobs. The City Council will take a final vote on the agreement later this year.


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  • mjeffrey Jul 27, 2009

    i dont see why not, if you put them on your house, they should cover them as they are essentially a part of your roof. maybe they might charge a few dollars more in premiums to cover it, but they should cover any damage. the increase in premiums should of course only apply to those who put solar panels on their roofs.

  • Timetogo Jul 27, 2009

    ..so when (not if) hail destroys the solar panels, will the insurance cover replacement??

  • lkanzig Jul 27, 2009

    15 jobs...... and how much is this going to cost?
    where is the money comming from to fund this?
    maybe they decided to cancel that pier?
    guess common sense has still not entered into nc politics.

  • mjeffrey Jul 27, 2009

    ok i conceed that point regarding nuclear plants.

    that being said, solar as well as wind, both at this location discussed as well as very small scale panels on the roofs of houses can help reduce overall strain on the grid as a whole during peak conditions. besides having solar panels on your roof supplying power to your house can reduce your electric bills by reducing how much you have to take from the grid.

  • bluecharger Jul 27, 2009

    so.....when Progress Energy raises rates because "we're not buying enough electricity from them to cover their costs" due to solar panels, will we THEN raid the State House with pitchforks and torches?

  • Fun Jul 27, 2009

    Solar panels on roof tops ?! God forbid, they'll taxing the rain run off and next will be the sun and the air we breathe!

  • HangOn Jul 27, 2009

    There are solar shingles now which look about the same as traditional.

    What happens to the solar farms when large hail hits?

  • delilahk2000 Jul 27, 2009


  • Bendal1 Jul 27, 2009

    I question the cost effectiveness of solar panels in NC. We don't have nearly enough sunny days to generate electricity on to offset the high cost of solar panels. Places like the Southwest, where's both a lot of sunny days and immense amounts of open space, are where solar panels should be installed. You could put enough panels out there to power a big chunk of the US' electricity demands, in fact.

  • gotsomesense Jul 27, 2009

    Forget global warming - it's a scam. However, we WILL run out of oil and there is only approximately 70 years of uranium left to fuel EXISTING nuclear plants. Nuclear plants have around a 35 year pay back period (regardless of all the government red tape) for the utility company. If we build more nuclear plants, the uranium supply in years will go down. We have to figure out how to do something else to get off of foreign energy. However, we have lots of coal and natural gas in this country. Coal can make electricity and natural gas can be used to heat homes, cook, heat water, and fuel cars and other vehicles, among other things. Do we need to investigate cost-effective renewables? YES! Do we need to do something else in the meantime that will expand a domestic energy supply and help to provide domestic jobs? ABSOLUTELY! The bottom line is let's stop sending our money across the ocean for anything, especially when it's used to fund terrorists. Let's go dig and drill right now!!