WASHINGTON, DC – A study released today shows ratepayers in North Carolina could see $26 million in energy savings annually if the state were to add 400 megawatts (MW) of wholesale solar and 100 MW of distributed solar generation.
The study also found that the benefits of solar exceed costs by 30 to 40 percent in North Carolina. Benefits include: savings on expensive and polluting conventional power; reduced investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure; reduced electricity lost during transportation over power lines, as net metered solar's surplus energy flows to the grid and is consumed locally; and savings on the cost of meeting renewable energy goals.
”This study confirms what we are experiencing every day as more and more solar projects are being developed in North Carolina with benefits flowing to local communities,” said Ralph Thompson, Chairman of the North Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance.
“This study shows that doubling North Carolina’s capacity would bring significant benefits to NC ratepayers and shows real data for policymakers to consider,” said SEIA Senior Vice President for State Affairs Carrie Cullen Hitt. “Related investment and jobs would bring additional benefits to the state's residents.”
"With solar quickly becoming a widespread, affordable option, state leaders are working to understand the impacts of this dynamic energy resource. This study concludes that solar power produced when and where it's needed most is tremendously valuable to North Carolina's grid and the families and businesses it serves. We hope this data will be put to use for good solar policy decision making," said Peter Olmsted, East Coast Policy Advocate at the Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar).
The study provides an independent analysis of the benefits and costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation for electric ratepayers in the service territories of the major electric utilities in North Carolina, including Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Dominion North Carolina Power.
Utility companies assess the merits of adding a new power plant by looking at the costs to build and operate the plant over its useful life, compared to the costs avoided by using other resource options. This study evaluates solar over the same long-term time frame.
Data for the study came largely from the North Carolina utilities’ latest integrated resource plans (IRPs), supplemented with data from recent avoided cost proceedings and general rate cases.
In addition to grid benefits, solar delivers economic, environmental and public health benefits to North Carolina. Throughout the state there are currently more than 121 solar companies whose employees provide a wide variety of solar products and services from manufacturing to installation and maintenance. North Carolina ranks 5th in the country in installed solar capacity, with 322 MW – enough solar energy to power 30,600 homes.
The study was commissioned by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, a North Carolina-based nonprofit formed in 1978 whose members include businesses, local governments and individuals interested in North Carolina's sustainable energy future, and was authored by Tom Beach and Patrick McGuire of Crossborder Energy. According to the authors, they relied to the greatest extent possible on public data and on transparent calculations of the benefits and costs.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
About Vote Solar:
The Vote Solar Initiative is a non-profit grassroots organization working to foster economic opportunity, promote energy independence and address climate change by making solar a mainstream energy resource across the United States. Since 2002, Vote Solar has engaged at the state, local and federal levels to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale. www.votesolar.org