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Solar energy use on the rise in NC

Posted March 14, 2015
Updated March 18, 2015

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— The solar industry in North Carolina is booming, and one Raleigh company is cashing in on the success that the sun has to offer.

NC Solar Now, a solar installation company on Atlantic Avenue, has been around since 2010. Company sales director Gregory Olenar said solar sales are surging.

“Right now, we’ve seen a decline in (solar) panel prices, and it’s been absolutely amazing," he said. "Our business has doubled in the last 12 months."

Olenar said to make the most of solar energy, up to 20 panels can be installed on the south facing side of a roof, which can reduce energy bills from 30 to 50 percent.

Jack Martin, a technology professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, said investing in solar energy just makes sense.

“All energy is derived from the sun,” he said. “It heats the earth, it causes our weather. Winds and tidal and currents (are) all derivative of solar power. It’s the power that we need.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, North Carolina’s solar industry is growing quickly due, in part, to the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard that allows clean energy companies to compete with utilities and offers consumers a choice in their energy supply.

In 2014, North Carolina installed an additional 397 megawatts solar electric capacity to bring its total to 953. The addition boosted the state to second in the country for the amount of installed solar capacity. In North Carolina, one megawatt can power about 95 homes.

In 2014, $652 million was invested on solar installations in North Carolina.

Martin said that even though in the past four years North Carolina has jumped from No. 6 in solar energy production to No. 2, right behind California, the solar industry still has a long way to go.

“Right now about 1 percent of the electrical power we have comes from solar,” Martin said, “It's nothing to sneeze at.”

Despite solar accounting for such a small portion of total electrical power in North Carolina, the capacity for solar energy has been increasing by the year.

“It’s been doubling every nine to 10 months,” Martin said. “In the next 10 years we can expect it to be some where in the neighborhood of 25 percent in North Carolina.”

Olenar said regardless of the numbers, the sun is one of the best investments anyone can make.

“It’s the one investment that’s predictable,” Olenar said. “The sun rises every single day and you know that it’s going to pay off in the future.”

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  • Anne Mathis Mar 16, 2015
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    Excellent! A step in the *right* direction! NO Fracking; NO Coal Ash; NO Pipeline; NO Offshore Drilling!!!!!!! Save NC!!!!!!!