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NC Continues to Lead Southeast in Solar Energy Usage

It's estimated more than a half million clean energy jobs in the United States have been lost this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
It's estimated more than a half million clean energy jobs in the United States have been lost this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
June 29, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Duke Energy remains the region's leader in installed solar capacity, but can no longer claim to have half of all the solar in the Southeast, according to a new report by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Bryan Jacob, the group's solar program director, co-authored the research. He says utilities in neighboring states have begun to close the gap when it comes to how many watts of solar power are sourced to customers.

However, North Carolina continues to have the second most installed capacity of solar in the country. It's second only to California.

"North Carolina's leadership has historically been legislative," Jacob states. "North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that has a renewable portfolio standard, where the state legislature required utilities to meet certain renewable targets by certain dates."

Jacob says North Carolina also has incentivized utility solar development and has enacted a rebate program for rooftop solar.

However, a study from BW Research Partnership found the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic led to the loss of more than 26,000 renewable energy jobs across the state this past spring.

Jacob says states such as Florida are catching up quickly when it comes to solar capacity and investment.

"So we're now projecting that Florida will overtake North Carolina in 2021," he states.

Some experts say with more people choosing to stay home amid COVID-19, state lawmakers and regulators should be implementing measures to make it easier for residents to make their homes more energy efficient.

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC