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NC was second-biggest for solar in 2014

Solar Energy Industries Association

North Carolina added the nation’s second-highest solar capacity in 2014, a trade association says.

The 397 megawatts added last year brought the state’s total to 953 megawatts. North Carolina is poised to become the first state in the South to break 1 gigawatt of solar power, says the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Utility-scale solar farms accounted for nearly all the capacity added last year, the report says. That trend is expected to continue this year.

Duke Energy has announced plans to add 278 megawatts of solar capacity in the state this year. Duke will acquire three large solar farms and buy power from five more.

Only 4 megawatts of solar were residential installations in 2014. But sales of rooftop arrays are drawing interest from national companies like NRG Home Solar, which cited “significant untapped market potential” as it opened a Charlotte office recently.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says the installed prices of residential solar have dropped by nearly half since 2010.

North Carolina’s 2007 renewable-energy standard and the state’s 35 percent tax credit for green energy projects are widely credited with the solar industry’s fast growth. The tax credit expires at the end of this year unless it is extended.

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Twitter: @bhender

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