North Carolina EMC to Develop Decommissioning and End-of-Life Regulations for Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Energy Projects

  • On July 19, 2019, North Carolina enacted a new law that directs the state’s Environmental Management Commission (“EMC”) to develop regulations for decommissioning utility-scale solar and wind energy projects and governing the management of end-of-life photovoltaic modules and energy storage system batteries. The new regulations will focus on utility-scale installations and will not apply to renewable energy facilities owned or leased by retail electric customers intended for the customer’s own use.
  • The regulations will also address the management of equipment and batteries associated with solar and wind energy, including spent or damaged solar panels, energy storage system batteries, and other specialized equipment.
  • The EMC must establish a stakeholder involvement process for developing the regulations by September 2019, and it must develop the regulations themselves by January 1, 2022.

Amazon Announces Renewable Energy Projects, Including Seventh in Virginia

  • On August 1, 2019, Amazon announced the development of two new renewable energy projects, one of which will be in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The Amazon Solar Farm will be the seventh of its kind in Virginia. The solar farm will generate an expected 100,000 megawatt hours (“MWh”) of energy annually and 45 megawatts (“MW”) of capacity. The project is expected to be in use by 2020 and will power the Amazon Web Services datacenters, which help to run the company’s online services.
  • The project, along with an Amazon Wind Farm that will be located in Ireland, brings the company’s total number of renewable energy projects to 66 globally with an aggregate capacity of 1,342 MW and the ability to provide more than 3.9 million MWh of clean energy annually. These projects further the company’s overarching goal “to power 100% of its global operations with renewable energy,” as stated in the projects’ press release. Additionally, in July 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association released its 2018 Solar Means Business Report, which ranked Amazon in second place in installed commercial solar capacity with 329.8 MW in 2018.

Entergy NOLA and NOLA’s Regional Transit Authority Agree to Install Rooftop Solar Panels on Carrollton Streetcar Barn

  • On July 23, 2019, Entergy New Orleans announced that it reached an agreement with the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority to utilize the agency’s Carrollton Streetcar Barn by installing rooftop solar panels. The Carrollton Streetcar Barn solar project will be a 300-killowatt system. The project will deliver power directly onto the electric grid.
  • The endeavor is part of a continued effort by Entergy New Orleans to employ empty commercial rooftops to generate energy. The New Orleans City Council approved a 5-MW commercial rooftop solar initiative by Entergy New Orleans in 2018. Under this initiative, the company has already installed approximately 2.5 MW of solar capacity on multiple warehouse rooftops around the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal and continues to work to identify new sites for future solar projects.

S&P Global Platts Analysis Notes the Rise of Solar in the Southeast

  • According to an analysis by S&P Global Platts, solar energy is on the rise in the Southeastern part of the United States. Solar resources in the region—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee—climbed 15 percent in 2018 and are predicted to surge another 25 percent this year. These states had roughly 5.6 gigawatts (“GW”) of solar capacity in 2017, 6.5 GW in 2018, and resources should surge to 8.1 GW in 2019 and reach 9 GW by 2020
  • North Carolina is expected to retain its solar lead with about 3.8 GW, but Florida is expected to overtake Georgia’s 1.6 GW this year to take second place with 2.5 GW in 2020. In contrast, Louisiana has virtually zero solar capacity, and although Arkansas may have added 1 MW in 2018, the state has no plans to add resources through 2020.
  • The regional uptick is largely attributed to the retirement of other generation resources, specifically aging coal plants. However, the primary cause is the steep decline in the cost of solar. Installed prices for solar have fallen from $5.52/W in 2010, to $1.13/W in 2018. Despite this growth, impediments to the integration of renewables, such as lack of competition, regulated utility status, and relatively cheap power prices, continue to temper what could be a regional solar boom.