How to Export Electricity: A Crash Course for N.C. Solar Producers

Because North Carolina’s construction costs for solar are below the national median, solar is inexpensive to produce in the state compared to its neighbors. This provides a natural opportunity for N.C. energy producers to export electricity to higher-cost states like Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Interested buyers include companies that want to control their energy mix, as well as government institutions and utilities that need to meet state-by-state renewable energy standards. The increasing demand for and scaling up of solar projects are making it easier to attract investors, while also translating to more local jobs, larger truck fleets, and more purchases of heavy construction equipment.

There are a number of other reasons for North Carolina’s solar boom, including state policiies like the 12.5% by 2021 renewables mandate and its 35% investment tax credit. N.C. power producers looking to sell power to northeastern buyers are now on a learning curve about the dynamics of PJM’s Energy Market. JPM operates much like a stock exchange, with market participants establishing a price for electricity by matching supply and demand.  

There’s no doubt that solar energy will continue to gain momentum as an economic engine in N.C. Interesting times. Stay tuned.

Major N.C. solar producers look to export electricity from in-state projects

By John Downey | Charlotte Business Journal | Apr 28, 2015

North Carolina’s power-connection queue for solar projects remains clogged and state utilities’ power contract prices have dropped, so solar developers are looking at selling power into the PJM market.

At least a dozen large solar projects registered with N.C. regulators in the last few months list private sales in deregulated PJM states as the possible purchasers for the power they will produce.

They include significant solar farms proposed by Charlotte regional solar leaders SunEnergy1 of Mooresville, Geenex of Charlotte and O2 Energies of Cornelius.

The PJM Interconnection market runs from Virginia to Indiana. It includes Northeastern states such as Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that have high energy prices and in general are paying more for renewable-energy credits than are being paid in North Carolina.

It is an attractive market for solar producers. Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial subsidiary separate from Duke Energy Corp.’s (NYSE:DUK) utilities, announced the first PJM deal last year. It isdeveloping 52 megawatts of solar capacity, with the power being sold to three institutional customers in Washington, D.C.

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