As we have explored our many options for developing the farm, sustainability drives our decisions. It is essential that we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Our permaculture evaluation of the farm reveals that our land has great potential as a solar photovoltaic (PV) farm. This excites us greatly—it would be good for us and our environment, it would be a significant source of income, it would utilize our land effectively and serve as a model and demonstration site for our community.
There is also the possibility of “double cropping” a PV system so that by installing the panels with a nine-foot clearance crops that thrive in partial shade could be grown in the same space. We need clean energy and we need sustainable food and hopefully one day Peacehaven will provide both.
Declining PV module costs and growing expertise within the industry are driving down costs for solar PV in U.S. and North Carolina markets. In North Carolina the installed cost per Watt (W) of solar PV has decreased 36% from $8.50/W in 2006 to $5.44/W in 2011.
In addition to market dynamics, North Carolina has enacted several policies that facilitate the adoption of solar energy. A major driver is the North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). Adopted in 2007, this state policy requires North Carolina’s investor-owned utilities to generate at least 12.5% of their annual retail electric sales from a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources by 2021, including at least 0.2% of retail electric sales from solar energy.
Additional North Carolina policy drivers include a 35% state investment tax credit through 2015 and a property tax exemption of 80% for commercial and 100% for residential PV systems. Solar PV installations in North Carolina also benefit from federal energy policies, particularly a 30% federal investment tax credit. Commercial projects are also eligible for accelerated depreciation through the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System.
As a nonprofit, Peacehaven is unable to utilize these tax credit incentives. There are a number of financing solutions for this project that would benefit private investors/donors. If you are interested in learning more, please contact our Executive Director. Our preliminary assessment indicates that a 1MW system could be accommodated.
We believe that the commitment to renewable energy technologies will not only serve our present needs, but will also benefit the many generations to follow.