U.S. Sen. Richard Burr touts solar farm benefits

Utilities partnering with third-party renewable energy providers benefit North Carolina in the long term, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said on a tour Monday at Montgomery Solar Farm with several state lawmakers and business representatives.

Affordably priced energy will attract additional jobs and investment to the state, Burr said. That’s because “energy cost is the number one contributor to manufacturing costs today globally,” he said.

The 120-acre solar farm east of Charlotte is expected to generate 40,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year starting in November, said Joel Olsen, co-founder of Cornelius-based O2 Energies EMC, the company that owns and operates the 20-megawatt project.

Duke Energy will buy electricity and renewable energy credits produced at the farm for 15 years at 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour, Olsen said. The state’s average electricity retail price is 9.15 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For Montgomery County, the solar farm will bring in $100,000 in annual property tax, compared with $500 per year when it was a traditional farm, Olsen said.

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Burr defends McCain over Trump comments

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., on Monday defended Sen. John McCain after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refused to recognize McCain as a war hero over the weekend.

“The fact is that John McCain is an American hero, he is a war hero. … I would think that any person who makes such a statement would think long and hard about making an apology,” Burr told reporters during a tour of a solar farm Monday in Montgomery County.

Burr, however, said he does not expect Trump to deliver an apology.

During his campaign, Trump, a businessman and reality television personality, repeatedly has put himself under the spotlight for provocative statements. His latest came Saturday when he called McCain “not a war hero.”

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said Saturday at a Republican presidential forum.

McCain, a long-time Republican senator from Arizona, served as a Naval aviator during the Vietnam War and was shot down, tortured and held prisoner for more than five years in Hanoi.

Athena Cao