Wake Forest, NC— Back in 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 3, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). This standard requires all retail electric power suppliers to include renewable energy resources like solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and biomass to their fuel mix.
Wake Electric is well on the way to comply with North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires 10% renewable generation by 2018. Actually, it’s a sliding scale that requires 3% in 2012, 6% in 2015 and 10% in 2018.
The first 3% was relatively easy since we could count the renewable hydropower we get from the Kerr Lake project in Virginia. As we look toward meeting the higher targets, however, we have acquired Renewable Energy Certificates [RECs] from renewable resources right here in North Carolina. While they are not directly connected to our electric system, they count the same for REPS compliance.
A renewable generation resource has three sources of revenue: 1) federal and state tax credits and tax benefits such as accelerated depreciation [which can cover up to 75% of the cost], 2) sale of actual electricity produced to the interconnected electric utility and 3) sale of RECs [one REC for each 1,000 kWh produced]. The revenue from all three sources is usually needed to make the project feasible.
Wake Electric has purchased Solar RECs from 23 large-scale [above 2,000 kW] solar projects in North Carolina. In some cases, we have purchased much of the entire output of RECs for the expected 20 year life of the project. For more information on some of these projects, visit www.stratasolar.com or www.o2energies.com.
Complying with the REPS law is expensive, we estimate the current cost of $1 per meter per month to increase to around $2 per meter per month in 2018. However, we think it is reasonable to conclude that without the REPS requirement, that solar developers would be less likely to locate resources in North Carolina.
Wake Electric is also implementing several energy efficiency projects but for the larger number of RECs, solar has proven to be the most cost-effective. By choosing solar as our primary resource in complying with NC REPS, Wake Electric members have and will continue to make a big investment in the future of solar power in North Carolina.
Do you have a question or comment about Wake Electric’s efforts to comply with the North Carolina Renewable Portfolio Standard? Are you interesting in learning more about the 23 large-scale solar projects supported by Wake Electric members? Suggestions for future topics? Please submit them to MAC@wemc.com.