North Carolina and Alternative Energy

I ran across this little article on the N&O's website with the headline: "Who Says that Alternative Energy and North Carolina Don't Mix?". Seeing the headline, I was excited to learn about the great things that North Carolina is doing with alternative energy (I was also a little surprised because I had thought that were behind the curve in alternative energy). However, once I began reading the article, I realized this was a case of a completely inaccurate title.

The article was filled with information on how the state's programs did not stack up. First off was the only good news, the state offers lots of tax credits for alternative energy use. But then the reality of North Carolina's situation was exposed.

North Carolina has a statewide system for purchasing renewable energy as part of your regular energy service for as little of $3 called Green Power. But

NC GreenPower's 7,600-plus donors represent only 0.019 percent of the state's utility customers.

So less than 2/100th of a percent of power costumers are willing to fork out $3 for this program.

In 1980, North Carolina also created Advanced Energy, a non-profit corporation dedicated to developing more efficient energy production and transportation systems and to reduce the negative impact environmental impacts. But:

But the program is also one of the nation's puniest, costing the average homeowner just 3 cents a month and generating a statewide budget of $3.5 million, an insignificant amount compared with $121 million collected in Wisconsin last year.

So it turns out that North Carolina has the ability to produce better energy options, but citizens are taking advantage of them, and the state is not funding them.


One of my friends

Just installed a wind generator and a solar PV array and is now moving off the grid. Right here in Orange County.

advice on wind generator and pv array


can you please put me in touch with your friend? I'm very interested in learning more about wind generators and solar arrays and am a student at UNC here in chapel hill. If you could have him email me at or let me email him, I'd appreciate it.

I'll send him your email address

and hopefully he'll get in touch. I think he's out of town right now, so it might be a week or so.


As it is, in Asheville there is a biodiesel co-op. Having gotten off the ground just recently, Blue Ridge Biofuels is making tremendous progress. In addition to serving an ever-expanding market of imported pick-up trucks, VW's and Mercedes, they also sell a blend of biodiesel that can be used for home heating. Best of all, they are employee owned and eager to share what knowledge they have of biodiesel production.
From the pump, biodiesel sells for around $3/gal, but once you have the equiptment, you can produce your own for less than 50 cents a gallon. There are a lot of good resources on the web, but the Blue Ridge Biofuels website is a good place to start.

NC Green Power

First, it's not paying $3. You pay a higher rate for electricity.

Second, they have a -- shall we say -- expansive view of Green Power, including incinerating waste. And you can't specify where your power is coming from. That's the reason I haven't signed up.

We need wide-open net metering, but the NC Utility Commission has managed to throttle that one pretty well, passing some narrow program instead of going whole hog, as they have in CA and many other states.

From my last energy company

They offered the blocks of energy in three dollar increments. You do get energy at a higher rate, but you can limit the amount you get in the three dollar increments.

Lyle Estill - Piedmont Biofuels and Blooker runner-up

Lyle was a runner-up in the non-fiction category competition for the Blooker for his book Biodiesel Power : The Passion, the People, and the Politics of the Next Renewable Fuel.

Methane recovery, an idea I've been floating for awhile and something I spoke to during the 2005 Council elections, has been brought up by Orange County BOC candidate Mike Nelson.

My take on "green" is to try to chip away at the problem from as many angles as possible instead of going for a "mega-project" solution.

For those who don't know Lyle . . .

He is an amazing guy. Entrepreneur, artist, activist, geek, hippy and philanthropist all rolled into one. If only more BIG business people would emulate his holistic view of commerce and culture, the world would be a much better place.

How to eat an elephant

I was listening to someone working on the CAFE standards being criticized that the increases were too small. Her response was: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." The problem is that you need the elephant eaten before he sits on you.