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Solar power farm proposed in Davie County

Editorial: Solar farms play key role in energy independence |

Strata Solar Development LLC is leading the way to clean, renewable energy in North Carolina with projects such as its proposal to build a 5-megawatt solar farm in Mocksville.

The facility would sell its electricity to Duke Energy. Strata isn't the only solar energy company in the state, but at the moment it's the most prominent, with plans to complete 15 industrial-scale solar farms this year, each producing about 5 megawatts of power.

Solar farms are springing up across the state. Among other projects, there's a 17.2-megawatt, 200-acre solar farm in Davidson County (currently the state's largest solar farm); a 900-kilowatt, 6-acre solar farm in Avery County; the 1.2-megawatt Mayberry Solar Farm in Mount Airy; and a 5-megawatt farm in Cleveland County.

Solar power is increasingly efficient. It's becoming more affordable; the cost of solar panels, including installation, has fallen from about $9 a watt to $3 a watt this year and could fall to $1 a watt in several years, Strata's chief executive, Markus Wilhelm, told the Journal's Richard Craver.

The impetus for solar farms in North Carolina comes from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, a bit of forward-thinking legislation instituted by the state in 2007, which requires public utilities like Duke Energy to have the equivalent of 3 percent of their retail sales come from renewable energy and energy-efficient sources by this year, and increases in future years.

This far-sighted approach is working, as Strata and other companies provide the structure and expertise to meet the mandate.

via Editorial: Solar farms play key role in energy independence |