NC GreenPower

1/15/2008 Largest Private Solar Power System in North Carolina Goes Live on NC State Campus

Raleigh, N.C. (January 15, 2008)

Richard Harkrader, owner of Durham-based Carolina Solar Energy, has waited three years for this day.

After many lessons learned, the solar project his company began in 2004 is finally up and running on the North Carolina State University campus next to the RBC Center in Raleigh, making it the largest privately financed solar photovoltaic (PV) array in North Carolina.

The 75.6 kilowatt (kW) system, comprising 432 ground-mounted solar panels, was dedicated on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at a ceremony hosted by NC GreenPower and N.C. State University. The power it generates is sold to Progress Energy.

“I believe consumer demand for green power will quickly outpace supply in our state,” said Harkrader, “One of our goals with this project is to show that solar power is feasible on a large scale right here in North Carolina.”

Until now, the state’s primary investors in solar energy projects have been homeowners, environmentalists, and a handful of large corporations or government agencies. Cost is often cited as one of the major prohibiting factors.

But the barriers that the industry once faced are now being overcome, thanks to available federal and state tax incentives, as well as demand created by NC GreenPower, a non-profit program that enables electric customers to support cleaner energy options across the state through voluntary contributions on their electric bill. Today, the program supports a number of green power projects, including more than 100 solar energy sites statewide.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the renewable energy business,” said Robert Koger, president of NC GreenPower. “And we are very pleased to be a part of the success story of green power in North Carolina.”

The site dedicated Tuesday is located on land provided by N.C. State University and will serve as both an educational project for students and a visible reminder of the changing landscape of energy. The dedication also is part of N.C. State’s “Year of Energy,” a special year-long focus on energy-related issues and practices.

“In setting energy as our priority and focus, N.C. State is demonstrating a commitment to our land grant mission of meeting the needs of the citizens of North Carolina,” said Chancellor James Oblinger.

Meeting the needs of North Carolina residents is also a priority for Progress Energy, which purchases the electricity generated by the solar array.

“We are focused on a balanced approach that includes investments in new energy-efficiency programs, alternative and renewable energy technologies and state-of-the-art power plants,” said Progress Energy Carolinas president and chief executive officer Lloyd Yates. “This solar array is part of the solution.”

While all in attendance celebrated the significance of the N.C. State solar array, Carolina Solar Energy’s founder stressed that more work remains to be done.

“Photovoltaic solar technology has come a long way in the past few decades,” Harkrader said. “There’s no doubt solar power is becoming a viable investment in North Carolina, and will improve the larger projects we build.”

The N.C. State solar array is the first in a series of projects that Carolina Solar Energy plans to build. Future plans include several 100 kW systems hosted by businesses, schools, shopping centers and government facilities across the state.

NCSU Solar Project, by the numbers
Equipment: 432 SolarWorld, 175 Watt solar panels
Satcon 75KW three phase inverter
Annual electricity generation: 95,000 KW hours
sufficient to power 8-10 average NC homes
Project cost: $605,000
Annual emissions avoided: Offsets the burning of approximately 80,000 pounds of coal,
which would produce 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
(source NC GreenPower emission calculator)

NCSU Solar Project Partners

  • Carolina Solar Energy LLC – The project developer has 33 years of experience building, financing and developing solar and real estate projects. CSE develops solar PV projects 75 KW and larger. Contact Richard Harkrader, 919-682-6822.
  • North Carolina State University – Owner of the land upon which the solar array is sited and an educational partner working to promote energy innovation in 2008 as part of its “Year of Energy” campaign.
  • NC GreenPower – A statewide, non-profit program enabling North Carolina citizens to support renewable energy development through voluntary tax deductible contributions. Funds are used to provide subsidies for new renewable projects in North Carolina. The program is offered by 44 electric utilities and has more nearly 13,000 individual and business participants. It is the first statewide, multi-utility green power program in the
  • Progress Energy – Purchaser of the electricity generated by the solar array and an NC GreenPower partner. Progress Energy also works closely with NCSU on a number of projects, including education and research programs as well as energy efficiency campaigns.
  • Southern Energy Management – NC’s largest sustainable energy services company collaborated in the design, construction, installation of the array, as well as the operations management. Its expert team includes engineers, building scientists, plumbers, electricians, solar specialists and energy efficiency raters who provide cost-effective, sustainable energy services for residential, commercial and industrial markets.
  • NC Solar Center – Operated by the College of Engineering, NCSU, the NC Solar Center assisted in design, permits and public education. Created in 1988, the North Carolina Solar Center serves as a clearinghouse for solar and renewable energy programs, information, research, technical assistance, and training
  • SunEdison – Business advisor and supplier of solar equipment.
  • King Brothers Electric – Electrical interconnection to Progress Energy grid.
  • Bishop Construction – Foundations and site work.
  • BB&T Equipment Finance Corp. – Project financing.
  • State Energy Office – Provided partial funding of the project through a grant purposed to stimulate solar energy development nationwide.

About NC GreenPowerNC GreenPower is the nation’s first statewide, multi-utility initiative to encourage the development of renewable energy sources. The program taps into technology that transforms renewable energy sources such as wind, sunshine and landfill methane gas into safe and environmentally sustainable power, giving North Carolinians cleaner options for their energy sources. NC GreenPower was launched in October 2003 and is currently offered to customers in 44 electric utilities. NC GreenPower is a subsidiary of Advanced Energy, a Raleigh-based nonprofit corporation that helps utility, industrial and residential customers improve the return on their energy investment.

Residential and business customers may voluntarily contribute funds that NC GreenPower will use to purchase power from renewable energy sources in the state. All renewable energy will be generated in North Carolina for the state’s electric supply. Customers also may sign up for the program by contacting their electric provider.

For more information, contact: Katie Shepherd
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
NC GreenPower