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Secretary van der Vaart on solar and nuclear energy as part of NC's all-of-the-above energy strategy

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 12:00am
Solar and nuclear energy resources are important tools in Governor McCrory’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, which promotes all sources of clean, reliable and affordable energy. As the only state in the Southeast with a renewable energy portfolio standard, North Carolina has, through various incentives, fostered tremendous growth of the solar energy industry. We ranked 4th in the nation and 9th per capita for total solar electric capacity installed in 2014, making solar a growing part of the state’s energy portfolio.
I have consistently supported the diversification of energy resources, including solar, as a key principle of the McCrory administration’s all-of-the-above strategy. Becoming overly reliant on a single energy resource subjects ratepayers to the spikes in energy prices that accompany uncertainty in the marketplace. Because solar facilities supply energy only when the sun is shining, utility companies must burn natural gas or coal to ensure that customers have a constant source of electricity. Nuclear energy is the only source of zero-emission, always-on baseload electricity. It can provide the around-the-clock electricity that intermittent sources cannot. Both solar and nuclear power are important to our energy mix.
The proliferation of solar farms in North Carolina does present the challenge of what to do with the solar panels when they reach the end of their useful life (approximately 20 years). One option employed by the federal government for solar installations on federal land is to require a decommissioning plan that ensures money is available to safely dispose of the panels and return the land to productive use.
While the renewable industry continues to grow in North Carolina, new nuclear generation is needed to assure that residents and businesses have reasonably priced and reliable energy for years to come. A nuclear facility can produce around-the-clock, affordable, clean energy for more than 80 years. I recognize that using both forms of energy will help cleanup North Carolina’s power sector while keeping energy prices.