City of Charlotte Announces Partnership to Construct Major Utility-Scale Solar Energy Project

Cory Burkarth
cory.burkarth@charlottenc.gov
2/25/2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 24, 2020) – The Charlotte City Council today voted Monday evening to participate in the Duke Energy Green Source Advantage (GSA) Program, which will enable the City of Charlotte to move forward with a 35-megawatt, utility-scale solar energy project – and makes Charlotte the nation's most populous city to acquire new renewable energy through a utility green tariff. The City will partner with Carolina Solar Energy, a North Carolina-based, solar energy company, and Ecoplexus, an international solar energy company with offices in Durham, NC, to build the solar farm, which is expected to be fully operational by 2022.

The solar energy project, which will help offset about 25% of carbon emissions from city-owned buildings over the next 20 years, helps advance the City's Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The SEAP was adopted unanimously by the City Council in December 2018 and provides the roadmap for Charlotte to become a low-carbon City by 2050, aligning with the Paris Climate Agreement. As part of its goals, the City aims to achieve 100% zero carbon municipal buildings and fleet by 2030.

"Not only does this 35-megawatt solar energy project get us 25% of the way towards our goal in a very short time, but it contributes to building the green economy and improves our citizens' quality of life," said Heather Bolick, Energy & Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Charlotte. 

The solar energy project is expected to save the City nearly $2 million in energy expenses over 20 years and will improve air quality in the region by reducing harmful pollution.  In addition, it is expected to create 428 jobs in the region, produce enough electricity that equates to powering 10,000 homes annually, and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to removing 12,000 passenger vehicles from the road.

The GSA program allows large customers to select and negotiate directly with a renewable energy company of their choice, thereby allowing the large customer to keep all renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by that renewable facility. The City completed a competitive procurement process to select Carolina Solar Energy, in partnership with Ecoplexus, and the planned 35 MW solar energy project.

Additional information can be found on the City of Charlotte's Office of Sustainability website.

American Cities Climate Challenge:
Charlotte is one of 25 cities selected to participate in the American Cities Climate Challenge, an effort to resource cities to take strong action to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change and impacts public health. As part of the challenge, the city has pledged to take bold action to reduce emissions from its transportation and building sectors. This utility-scale, solar project is an important part of the City of Charlotte's response to the challenge. The Renewables Accelerator, led by World Resources Institute and Rocky Mountain Institute, provides tools, resources and technical assistance to help U.S. cities advance ambitious renewable energy goals. Our partnership supports local governments in the American Cities Climate Challenge, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and more as they strive to decarbonize the electricity sector.

Quotes:

"Charlotte is taking its climate leadership to the next level by reducing fossil fuel dependence and leveraging the power of the sun. This is a big leap forward that will help the city meets its critical climate goals, improve air quality for North Carolinians and spur job creation. This is another prime example of the bold efforts that the American Cities Climate Challenge is helping spearhead from coast to coast." – Christina Angelides, Director of the American Cities Climate Challenge.

"Charlotte has shown incredible leadership as one of the first applicants to the GSA program and the first municipal customer to bring its own solar project to Duke Energy. Charlotte has paved the path for other cities in North Carolina to grow demand for clean energy solutions in Duke's territory, all while making progress toward better air quality, new jobs and workforce training opportunities. This is exactly the sort of achievement the Renewables Accelerator aims to help cities accomplish." – Ali Rotatori, Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute & Renewables Accelerator technical lead

"Taking advantage of Duke Energy's Green Source Advantage program is an important move for the City of Charlotte to lower its overall carbon footprint. We're pleased our headquarters location is the first city to take this step." – Christy Daniel, Managing Director, Renewable Customer Programs and Solutions at Duke Energy

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The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 870,000 residents. The city's priorities are workforce and business development; transportation, planning and the environment; safe communities; and great neighborhoods. For the latest news and updates about city government, visit the citywide newsroom at newsroom.charlottenc.gov, and follow @CLTgov on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.