North Carolina is the heart of Duke Energy territory. It has also become a hotbed for the solar revolution. While Duke, the largest investor-owned utility in the country, has tried to slow down solar through attacks on net metering, people across the state agree that renewable energy is better for their pocketbooks and the planet. Now with grassroots solar initiatives, such as Solarize, popping up across the state, people can more easily act on their support for solar and install solar panels on their house.
The consensus is loud and clear: Solar is the People’s Power
As Charlotte Resident, Kim Anthony said:
“We are uncomfortably close to the Catawba Nuclear Station and Allen Steam Station, a coal-fired [Duke-owned] power plant. Like many people, I have concerns about contaminants in the air I breathe and the water I drink. And as a runner, currently training for a marathon, I am especially concerned about the number of days when our air is unsafe.”
That is why Kim is installing photovoltaic panels on her home in south-west Charlotte, through Solarize Charlotte.
What is Solarize?
Solarize Charlotte is a grassroots effort, run by Greenpeace and over 20 other community groups and non-profit organizations, to increase access to residential solar energy. The program essentially functions as a bulk purchasing agreement between a group of homeowners and a certified solar installer. By purchasing and installing panels in bulk, savings are transferred to the customers, further decreasing the cost of going solar for everyone.
Why it’s so successful:
Within just 6 weeks, Solarize Charlotte has activated hundreds of people in support of solar and over 350 homeowners have sign-up for free home solar assessments. At the most recent Solarize event, 125 people packed into a local gym to hear from a panel of solar and energy tax experts about how they can save money on their electricity bills, protect their air and water, and mitigate global warming.
“I’m tired of fighting all the bad things,” said Greenpeace Volunteer, Deb Arnason. “I want to support something positive.” In an area plagued by the ever-present threat of toxic coal ash, rising utility rates, and ALEC-influenced legislation, North Carolinians are hungry for the solar energy revolution in their own backyards.
North Carolina is not alone in its love for solar; people around the country are going solar at an unprecedented rate. As a nation we are on track to see a solar installation go up every 83 seconds by 2016. The solar energy industry is growing every day, which means more skilled, clean energy jobs, and cleaner, cheaper energy options that benefit everyone.
Top photo by Ahmer Inam