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Solar 101

Residential, Church and Community

Solar 101

Thursday, December 7 at 5 pm

J. Murphy Smith Center

508 Middle Street, New Bern



New Bern, Craven County, and other area residents gathered at the J. Murphy Smith Center for a Solar 101 Symposium that provided a special opportunity for more than 90 individuals to hear from area experts and vendors on the changing world of solar power and how changes in North Carolina law might affect their use of solar power in the future.

All three major residential electric distributors in this region spoke: New Bern Electric Utilities, Duke/Progress Energy, and Cartaret-Craven Electric Co-op. In addition, there were vendors of residential solar power systems and other groups working on energy efficiency and solar power.

Those who attended had the opportunity for individual discussions with the presenters and vendors.

The New Bern Solar 101 Symposium had three goals: 1) introduce area residents to HB 589 and the possibilities it presented for residential and community solar power, 2) give area residents a picture of the current status of solar power in North Carolina and likely future directions and 3) make solar power and renewable energy a bigger part of the community agenda.

At the symposium the audience learned that HB 589 is somewhat complicated, with crucial details still to be clarified, and for Duke Energy -Progress customers HB 589 does present attractive possibilities. Those customers need to consult with Duke and with the solar vendors listed as contacts on the symposium handout included in this website.

Unfortunately, neither New Bern Utilities nor Cartaret-Craven Electric Co-op are part of the rebate program in HB 589 and neither utility has many customers using residential solar power because of restrictive policies and contracts with suppliers that favor non-renewable sources of energy, including nuclear energy,. For those customers solar water heating, as opposed to a photovoltaic electricity-generating system, can make sense. Water heating can consume 30% of a typical residential electric bill. Our contacts list can be helpful for those interested in this possibility. We intend to work with New Bern Utilities and Cartaret-Craven Electric Co-op to encourage them to develop policies and new contracts far more favorable to renewable energy,

While we were committed with this symposium to presenting the current situation in an objective manner, which the symposium succeeded admirably in doing, we make no secret of our belief that renewable resources are the future in energy in North Carolina and the United States. Renewable resources are already proving themselves to be safe for the environment and ultimately cheaper than fossil fuels, particularly when the true costs of fossil fuels becomes clear. These costs include climate change, environmental degradation of our communities, and poorer health for all of us.

This free symposium was brought to you by the Carolina Nature Coalition, the Sierra Club Croatan Group, and North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light.

NC Interfaith Power & Light is a program of the North Carolina Council of Churches. NCIPL wants to empower every congregation to do all they can to reduce their carbon footprint and move to clean energy. They also offer an energy analysis at no charge to faith communities, plus many other resources through their emPOWERed program. Click here to contact an NCIPL representative and set up a time for them to visit your church for an evaluation.

The Carolina Nature Coalition is a community organization based in New Bern, North Carolina, whose mission is to raise public awareness of environmental issues and engage citizens in meaningful community action.

For more information contact Michael Schachter at 252 626-5100 or Robert Golden at 518 955-6242.

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