North Carolina is leading the Southeast in the emerging clean energy economy. Below is a small sampling of what's happening in NC. Click below on each link to learn more about these recent innovations, announcements and advancements. (And, remember to forward your announcements to email@example.com.)
Gov. Bev Perdue recently released a great new video showing how North Carolina's clean energy sector is thriving - features recent major announcements across the state.
Shoe Show, the footwear discount chain, is planning to build a 4.9 megawatt solar farm at its Concord headquarters, which will be one of NC’s largest. The project will be built in three phases, with the first to begin generating electricity within a few weeks.
O2energies and Strata Solar are nearing completion on their 1.2 megawatt "Mayberry solar farm" in Mt. Airy. This will be the small town’s first solar farm. A ribbon cutting event is planned for mid-October.
The town of Cary has approved installation of a 2.3 megawatt solar farm on municipal property at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility and atop the town hall campus parking deck. Installation is expected to begin this fall, with the system becoming fully operational next year.
A Christmas tree farm in Newland (Western NC) will soon be the site of a 900-kilowatt, $5 million solar power farm that will generate enough power for about 120 homes.
PlotWatt Web app spots home energy hogs. The Durham-based company’s software doesn't just read electricity meter information and post it online. It takes a building's energy pulse to find out what's going on inside and they’re developing a system to provide recommendations on how to improve efficiency based on meter information. To build a profile of a building's energy use, PlotWatt's cloud-based software parses a home's power signal to tell consumers where most of their energy goes.
One of the most popular green building programs is the National Green Building Certification (NGBC) Program administered by the NAHB Research Center. To date, there have been over 1,500 NGBC homes nationwide — and 415 of those are right here in North Carolina. Southern Energy Management is the number one accredited verifier in the US.
LED lighting company Cree has bolstered its product lineup with a major acquisition valued at $525 million. The purchase of privately held Ruud Lighting, which is based in Racine, Wisc. and has 800 employees, gives Cree a line-up of outdoor LED lighting fixtures to complement its own indoor lights.
Several farms in western NC are receiving grants totaling almost $150,000 will help install solar thermal and wind turbine projects in ten Western North Carolina counties. Farms in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Mitchell, Rutherford and Yancey counties will all receive money as part of the federal Recovery Act. The projects are part of the 21st Century Communities Program partnership with Asheville’s Community Development Specialists and Green Brothers Solar. The goal is to provide local examples of renewable energy systems in rural, distressed counties to encourage growth and save farmers money. Students from local high schools and community colleges will get hands on training during the installation of the renewable energy systems.
Ford and leading solar panel manufacturer SunPower have formed a partnership to make electric vehicles even more environmentally friendly. In addition to recharging vehicles by plugging into an electrical outlet, SunPower will provide discounts for Ford EV buyers on home solar systems to help offset the carbon output of charging by plugging into electrical outlets.
A power purchase agreement between Henderson County and a solar energy contractor to provide hot water to the Detention Center will save the county more than $3,000 a year, officials said. In February, the county engineering department received a $71,000 stimulus grant to install a solar thermal hot water system for the jail, and last week county commissioners voted to award the project to SolTherm, an Asheville-based clean energy services firm.
The EPA gave the grocery chain its 2011 Gold-Level GreenChill Store Certification Award for its stores. The GreenChill program is specifically geared toward the reduction of refrigerant emissions, which affects the planet’s protective ozone layer and is connected to climate change. The grocer has widely embraced other environmentally sensitive practices, including participation in the EPA’s Energy Star initiative by certifying 1,015 of its stores under the program.
Five years after becoming the original “LED City,” Raleigh, NC, continues a steady roll-out of the technology in myriad applications. In partnership with local LED manufacturer Cree, Raleigh became the first LED City in 2006. Since the debut installation on a municipal parking deck in January 2007, the city has completed 57 separate LED projects, both interior and exterior, covering everything from streetlights to a pedestrian plaza to the mayor’s office.
The new student social space known as “The Barn” at Wake Forest University became the first building on campus to feature solar electric PV cells. Like all new construction on campus, the Barn was designed to meet, at a minimum, LEED Silver standards. The space will be utilized for campus concerts, parties, student activities and other events after it opens officially on September 1.
Thirteen companies have been selected to participate in “The Durham, NC, Bull City Stampede 2.0”, including several cleantech companies.
One of the nation's greenest home rehabs -- in Wilmington, N.C. -- has perhaps a surprising origin: the housing market's collapse. The rehab earned the attention of the Green House blog from USA Today, being named "This Week's Green House." The owners took the house down to the studs, creating an ultra-efficient home that has earned one of the highest points (113.5) ever for a gut rehab from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program.
Duke Energy Corp.has opted for a smart-grid network that will rely heavily on wireless carriers and other existing infrastructure, rather than building its own proprietary network.
NC’s natural gas industry is pushing ahead with a strategy to promote cars powered by compressed natural gas as an alternative to electric vehicles that recharge from public charging stations and wall outlets. PSNC Energy, the Triangle's natural gas utility, has asked regulators to approve a rate PSNC would charge to motorists filling up at PSNC-owned filling stations. The Gastonia-based company is planning to open three stations in the state this year.