Erwin Welcomes Completed Solar Farm
State officials, local politicians, town staff and area residents gathered at Strata Solar’s latest solar farm along Erwin Access Road near Triton High School this week to officially welcome the energy source with a ribbon cutting. In the photo from left are Steve Blackburn,TraceySprague with Carr Precast Concrete, Erwin Commissioner Alvester McKoy, Erwin Mayor Patsy Carson, Erwin Commissioner Billy Turnage, state Rep. Leo Daughtry, Robert Carr, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, Erwin Commissioner Thurman Whitman, state Sen. Ronald Rabin, Susan Byerly, HarnettCounty Commissioner Gordon Springle and Abe Elmore stand with several Strata Solar workers.
Erwin is now part of a growing $2.1 billion industry in North Carolina. Solar energy is blossoming all around the state and acreage filled with panel arrays is becoming commonplace — seen along highways and depleted farmland to soak up the sun and create energy.
On Wednesday, state officials, local politicians, town staff and curious residents gathered at Strata Solar’s latest project along Erwin Access Road near Triton High School.
The completed project, which is already producing energy, features 17,000 angled panels to catch the rays and convert theminto energy for a nearby Duke Energy substation — less than a mile from the location.
Erwin commissioners gave Strata the green light earlier this year.
The recent boom in solar is a response to North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring state utility companies to buy 6 percent of their energyfrom renewable sources like wind and solar by 2016. That requirement will more than double to 12.5 percent by 2021.
Now, with Erwin’s new fivemegawatt facility, the town can count itself as an alternative energy source for the next 30 to 40 years, said Strata officials.
Blair Schooff, Strata’s vice president of marketing and sales, greeted the crowd.
Mr. Schooff said his Chapel Hill-based company is leading the charge in the state’s “burgeoning solar industry.” He added that Erwin farm was unique, due to the separation of the panel arrays in three areas.
U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, who now has three solar farms in her district, also shared a few words.
“This is bringing jobs to Harnett County and North Carolina,” she said, motioning to the panels behind her. “In Washington, we’re looking for what works and this is a great example of (North Carolina’s) all of the above approach to the future.”
Following Rep. Ellmers, Betsy McCorkle with the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association congratulated Erwin on its new solar farm, saying the town would now be producing “clean energy” for decades to come.