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Report: Bright Future for Solar in NC

A new report ranks North Carolina in fifth place in solar per capita in the nation. (
A new report ranks North Carolina in fifth place in solar per capita in the nation. (
July 26, 2016

SANFORD, N.C. - There's four solar panels for every five people in North Carolina, placing the state in fifth place nationwide for solar per capita. That's according to a new report from Environment North Carolina Research
Research and Policy Center. The state bumped four places up from ninth place in the year before, and is the only southern state in the top 10.

State Representative Robert Reives, serving Chatham and Lee counties, said the state is on the cusp of leading the clean energy economy.

"Beyond just the simple fact of environmental concerns, beyond the clean energy push, it's another industry that North Carolina has got the chance to take the lead on and it's kind of hard to continue to pass up that," he said.

While Environment NC recognized the state for progress in solar industry growth, it also notes efforts by larger utilities, such as Duke, to slow the growth of solar. Lawmakers did not pass the Energy Freedom Act, which would allow third party sales to compete with Duke Energy, and earlier this year a bill was introduced to place costly restrictions on solar and wind. In addition this year, solar tax credits were not renewed by the State Assembly.

Reives said in an election year, solar is one issue that members of both parties support.

"It's not as partisan an issue as I think sometimes it's perceived," he added. "I do believe that there's going to be a push for those tax credits to be renewed, no matter how those elections turn out."

According to polling for Conservatives for Clean Energy, 86 percent of a bipartisan group of North Carolina voters said they want elected officials to encourage renewable energy options such as solar and wind. Slightly more than that said they wanted additional options for home and business owners to finance energy efficient upgrades.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC