Since 1985, the City of Raleigh has been committed to harnessing sunlight as an alternative energy source for buildings, street lights and other venues. The Neuse River Solar Farm is just the latest solar powered project involving the City. Here are some of the others:
· Rooftop solar photovoltaic array at the City’s E.M. Johnson Water Treatment Plant off of Falls of Neuse Road. This 250-kilowatt solar array on top of the water treatment plant’s clearwell building produces an estimated 325,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, roughly equivalent to the energy use of 25 homes in North Carolina. This also is the equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 230 metric tons annually. Durham-based Carolina Solar Energy owns and operates the solar array and sells the renewable energy produced by the project to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The City of Raleigh is leasing the rooftop space to Carolina Solar Energy for the solar array. No City capital is involved in this project;
· Rooftop solar array at the City’s Brentwood Road Operations Center. The array was installed by Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, and is owned by the City of Raleigh. This 30-kilowatt project produces about 74,000-kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, equivalent to the energy use of about six North Carolina homes. The renewable energy produced by the solar array is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The Brentwood Road Operations Center also has more efficient LED lighting, including solar-powered LED lights;
· Two rooftop solar arrays at the City’s new Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Operations Center on Beacon Lake Drive, which was formally opened last month. A 50-kilowatt array is located at the administration building; a second array, this one a 25-kilowatt facility, is at a vehicle wash building. Combined, the two solar arrays produce approximately 103,500-kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This is equivalent to the energy use of about eight North Carolina homes. The two arrays, owned by the City and developed by Sundance Power Systems of Weaverville, are expected to provide a minimum of 12.5 percent of the two buildings’ energy use. Plans calls for any excess renewable energy generated by the two solar arrays to be sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers;
· Rooftop solar array at the Raleigh Convention Center, a City of Raleigh facility. This project is currently under construction, with completion scheduled in April. The 500-kilowatt solar array will be the second largest convention center solar array in the nation, covering about 60 percent of the roof of Raleigh’s Downtown convention center. It is expected to produce 750,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, roughly equivalent to the annual energy use of about 70 homes in North Carolina. The team of FLS Energy and PowerWorks Electric is the solar array’s developer, owner and operator. FLS Energy, based in Asheville, and PowerWorks Electric of Mooresville are leasing the convention center rooftop space from the City to operate the solar array. Progress Energy Carolinas will purchase renewable energy produced by the solar array and distribute it to the utility’s customers;
· The City owns small solar arrays at the Annie Louise Wilkerson, M.D., Nature Preserve Park off of Raven Ridge Road and at three bus stop shelters. The bus stop shelters are located on Capital Boulevard near the Spring Forest Road intersection, on Capital Boulevard at the Calvary Drive intersection, and at the City’s Transit Operations Center, 4104 Poole Road. The renewable energy produced by the solar array at the nature preserve park is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The renewable energy produced from the solar arrays at the bus stop shelters is used by the City for lighting and message signs at the shelters;
· Solar thermal hot water heating systems have been installed at five City of Raleigh fire stations. Four of the systems were installed by Sundance Power Systems of Weaverville and the remaining system was put in by Petra Engineering in Charlotte. The systems heat water at the fire stations. A solar thermal system placed on the roof of the Municipal Building in 1985 still produces hot water for City government’s Downtown administration building;
· Two solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles have been installed at 616 S. Salisbury Street in a City-owned parking lot near the Raleigh Convention Center. PowerWorks Electric, headquartered in Mooresville, designed and installed the charging stations, which were unveiled in December. Progress Energy Carolinas and the City of Raleigh teamed up for this two-year research and development project involving the charging stations. Progress Energy Carolinas and the City use the stations to charge their respective fleets of plug-in electric vehicles. The charging stations are not available for public use. However, the City has installed 18 non-solar powered charging stations throughout Raleigh that are available for public use;
· Also just outside the Raleigh Convention Center is the Big Belly Solar Trash Compactor at the corner of Salisbury Street and Lenoir Street. The compactor is powered by solar energy and holds four times as much trash as regular containers. An electronic chip installed in the compactor notifies the City’s Solid Waste Services Department when it becomes full, saving cost, staff time and vehicle emissions; and,
· The City of Raleigh was the first North Carolina municipality to install solar-powered LED street lights. These lights are located in City Plaza and in the parking lot at Campbell University’s Law School, both Downtown, and at the City’s Marsh Creek Park Operations Facility off of New Hope Road. The solar powered-LED street lights were manufactured by Progress Solar Solutions, a local company that is not affiliated with Progress Energy Carolinas.
These solar energy initiatives are part of the City of Raleigh’s commitment to sustainability concepts, innovation and partnerships with the private sector to build stronger clean energy technology in the Capital City. These projects help create local jobs. For more information, contact the City of Raleigh Office of Sustainability at (919) 996-3840 or visit the City’s website at www.raleighnc.gov.