Viewpoint

Solar turning a corner in N.C.?

From an editorial Thursday in the Fayetteville Observer:

A ribbon-cutting for the opening of a new solar farm is getting to be old hat in North Carolina, which trails only California in turning the sun’s energy into electricity.

A new solar farm just outside Hope Mills is a head-turner. It’s one of the largest east of the Mississippi, covering 530 acres of what once was conventional farmland.

Just a few years ago, solar technology was struggling for a foothold and was the target of scorn from the Republican lawmakers.

And that’s the most surprising thing about that ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday: Republican politicians were in the vanguard of the well-wishers. There was U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose 9th Congressional District includes the solar farm. There was state Rep. John Szoka, fresh off successful passage of a renewable-energy support bill that he largely authored.

Not all that long ago, he was an alternative-energy skeptic. “What changed my opinion is facts,” Szoka said. “Facilities like this are drawing down the cost of energy.”

It’s increasingly clear that renewable energy has become a viable part of the nation’s energy supply. That’s why we continue to have a hard time understanding many North Carolina lawmakers’ efforts to obstruct progress in adopting renewables. If it’s viable now, it’s likely to be dominant in years to come. Isn’t it in our best interest to help the industry become strong here?

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