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WATAUGA — Blue Ridge Energy, a member-owned electric cooperative serving Northwest North Carolina, has selected Oriden LLC to develop a utility-scale solar project as part of its Brighter Future initiative. This project will provide a local generation source and allow Blue Ridge Energy to work toward its low cost, low carbon future with two significant carbon reduction targets: to achieve 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“To meet our sustainability goals while upholding our commitments to reliability and affordability, we are focusing our efforts on areas that make the electric grid more flexible, efficient, resilient and capable of supporting new energy solutions and the vitality of our communities, “ said Blue Ridge Energy’s CEO Doug Johnson. “We look forward to implementing Oriden’s custom-designed large-scale solar solution, which we have named Brighter Future Solar, to help meet our goals.”

The Brighter Future Solar project will provide substantial additional carbon-free electricity to Blue Ridge Energy. The utility-scale solar photovoltaic project will cover 50 to 55 acres in southern Caldwell County and will provide 11 megawatts of power — enough for 1,600 homes. By comparison, Blue Ridge Energy’s five existing community solar gardens cover about four acres combined and produce enough power for 75 homes.

Scheduled to come online this year, the Brighter Future Solar project will generate and send 19,000 megawatt hours of carbon-free electricity into the grid annually. Blue Ridge Energy will purchase the full output of the project through a 25-year fully bundled Power Purchase Agreement. This will help control wholesale power costs to keep rates stable for cooperative members. In the future, the project can help the cooperative provide alternative rate options to benefit the membership and help manage peak power demands for electricity.

Three companies are supporting the Brighter Future Solar project:

  • Oriden is leading the development and financing, while overseeing all project permitting, site diligence, engineering and major equipment decisions. Oriden is a full-service renewable energy developer funded and backed by Mitsubishi Power Americas, Inc., an industry leader in power generation, renewables and energy storage solutions.
  • United Renewable Energy LLC is providing late stage development support, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services using local North Carolina based management and labor. URE develops, designs, builds and maintains solar photovoltaic and energy storage systems for utilities, industrial and commercial companies, independent power producers and electrical membership co-operatives.
  • Pisgah Energy supported local community engagement and permitting efforts. The company provides comprehensive solar and energy storage design and development services across the Southeast.

“Blue Ridge Energy’s investment in solar shows great leadership and ensures its members’ energy generation needs are met sustainably and affordably,” said Michael Berlin, director of Energy Development at Oriden. “Oriden appreciates Blue Ridge Energy’s partnership and will execute with a focus on exceptional quality as it brings northwestern North Carolina a Change in Power.”

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(4) comments

thechaosaysmuuuu

This is excellent, and I fully support it.

*But* if y'all really wanted to make an impact, fix yer darn interconnect fees for residential solar! Y'all charge an arm and a leg to interconnect, enough to make some residential solar systems very difficult to pay off, yet you get the benefit of claiming the REPS credits for the solar being produced by your customers without having to spend a penny!

kford@blueridgeenergy.com

We do not receive any REPS credits from residential solar. We procure 100% of the REPS requirement from our wholesale power supplier.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Cool, thanks for the reply!

Still, the interconnect fee is pretty outrageous, and while I definitely understand and can appreciate some of the concerns RE: gird-interconnection with residential solar, it's not exactly the most inviting of schemes for folks interested in installing solar, which is the direction the world is headed (and needs to head...), and anything that can be done to speed that process, needs to be done.

Regardless, thanks again for your reply!

Maybe one day once the Duke monopoly is lifted...

thechaosaysmuuuu

I mean, AppVoices has already identified BRE as being among the worst in the southeast for residential solar.

https://appvoices.org/2018/10/23/blue-ridge-energys-solar-policies-among-the-worst-in-southeast/

I can confirm based on my own experiences and my energy bill for my solar array. It's doubtful that the system will ever pay for itself due to BRE's obscene fees. Working with BRE has never been an issue, and everyone I've ever dealt with has personally been excellent, but the fee-structure and system itself is a complete and utter rip-off.

Would love an explanation as to why BRE *chooses* to be one of the worst offenders in this regard, turning away potential solar customers and slowing the growth of solar in the high country at a time in history where that's the last thing we need to be doing...

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