Project will accelerate community solar by municipal and cooperative utilities in the Southeast
November 3, 2016 – Raleigh, N.C. – The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at North Carolina State University and its project partners, including Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), were awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to support municipal and cooperative electric utilities across the southeastern United States to accelerate the development and installation of community solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The partnership’s goal is to support the deployment of more than 200 megawatts (MW) of community solar in the next three years, which will meet the energy demands of approximately 25,000 homes. This project is one of 17 projects just announced by the Department of Energy to reduce the costs of solar electricity in the United States.
Community solar installations are generally smaller than utility-scale solar installations, yet large enough to provide low-cost solar electricity. The size of community solar arrays allows considerable flexibility in where they are built. Developing solar projects closer to the electricity demand provides benefits to utilities and customers alike, including greater system efficiency and reliability.
Community solar programs can allow consumers to sign up to be credited for a portion of the electricity production of the solar array. While some programs require an upfront investment to purchase a share of the PV system, others offer a zero-investment monthly subscription. Through community solar, consumers can support solar energy without the need to install a system on the roof of their home. NCCETC and RMI will help buyers to significantly reduce the price of solar electricity by helping them optimize and streamline the entire development process. When solar electricity becomes the lowest-cost type of power available, utilities may decide to share the savings with all their customers, without requiring customers to sign up for the service.
Municipal and cooperative utilities in the Southeast are well positioned to engage with the opportunity, and serve more than seven million households and small businesses. Some trendsetting municipal and cooperative utilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have recently unveiled their first community solar projects. During the three-year project, we will work with many of these first adopters to bring best practices in community solar development to all municipal and cooperative utilities across the Southeast. RMI’s Shine Program has helped electric cooperatives in New Mexico procure distribution-scale solar at record-low prices, providing multi-million-dollar economic savings to utilities and their customers.
The project team is partnering with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission (FPWC), a municipal utility serving Fayetteville, North Carolina. The project team is helping FPWC to design and procure a community solar project that will provide renewable energy at net economic benefit, by evaluating technology and program options. To maximize the value of the solar facility, FPWC plans to include a large battery as a part of its first community solar project. The support of FPWC is the type of technical assistance that the grant funding allows the project team to provide at no cost to requesting utilities during the second and third years of the project. During the first year of the project, the team will work with utility and solar stakeholders across the Southeast to produce an online toolkit of resources to help utilities implement community solar projects that benefit their customers.
Municipal or cooperative utilities that are interested in community solar, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center
The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, visit: www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCCleanTech
About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. In 2014, RMI merged with Carbon War Room (CWR), whose business-led market interventions advance a low-carbon economy. The combined organization has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.
About the Fayetteville Public Works Commission
Fayetteville PWC provides electric service to more than 87,000 customers in the Fayetteville/ Cumberland County area of North Carolina. PWC is the largest Public Power provider in the state and the 36th largest in the United States. PWC has been recognized by the American Public Power Association for outstanding electric system reliability as four-time recipients of the RP3 (Reliable Public Power Provider) Diamond Designation and as winners of the APPA’s E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award for sustained achievement and customer service.