| policy advances
in north carolina, lessons for tough states
By Gina R. Johnson
gina r. Johnson (editor@
editor of SOLAR TODAY.
Since passing a renewable energy and energy-effi- ciency portfolio standard (REPS) in 2007, North Carolina’s solar market has flourished. The state has
vaulted to the eighth and ninth places respectively for solar
water-heating and photovoltaic installations in the nation,
according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA)
reports that green jobs have grown at double-digit rates
each year, reaching an estimated 12,500 in 2010. As work
toward federal energy policies has stalled and more states
grapple with budgetary shortfalls and declining incentives,
North Carolina’s approach for thriving under challenging
conditions may offer a model.
Like other Southeastern U.S. states and much of the
Midwest, North Carolina is a regulated electricity mar-
ket where investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are regulated
monopolies. The competitive market-based approach of a
renewable portfolio standard tends to be a major shift for
regulators and IOUs in these states, especially when the
IOU is unlikely to own and operate new renewable gen-
eration. Skepticism and misperceptions about renewable
energy resources and cost are common. For such states, say
North Carolina solar advocates, clear lessons have emerged:
build broad support, start with small steps and respect the
needs of regulators, legislators and utilities.
18 May 2011 SOLAR TODA Y
solartoday.org Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
Since the REPS went into effect in 2007, Asheville, N.C.-based FLS Energy has installed enough solar thermal capacity in North Carolina to heat more than 500,000
gallons of water daily. The state has more than 100 solar energy companies, employing more than 1,500 people.