North Carolina’s first electric lights sizzled to life in 1881. Arc lamps ran off a rotor inside a magnetic field. It was a cotton mill in Salem, NC. Almost 140 years later:
- North Carolina became the second largest producer of electricity generated from solar photovoltaics, more than 4,400 MW.
- NC is a pioneer in nuclear power, which contributed the largest share of North Carolina’s electricity generation, 32 percent (2017 figure). That is 7 percent of the nation’s nuclear power.
- Natural gas-fired generation accounted for 30 percent, coal was 26percent, and renewables were 10 percent (2017).
- North Carolina’s three biodiesel plants have a combined production capacity of 16 million gallons a year.
Changes continue in the NC energy profile:
- Whether to build additional natural gas supply lines into the state is hotly debated.
- Independent solar farm builders have fanned across the state. Counties are responding with local ordinances about the installations.
- Traditional investor-owned utilities are responding to market demands, new fuel options, and changing regulatory environments.
- Customers have gained new leverage as technology makes energy efficiency and local generation possible as never before.
Energy Consumers of the Carolinas devotes this space to issues in North Carolina: Observations, questions, and viewpoints from people across a spectrum of energy and consumer interests.