2-24-2022 – Blue Ridge Energy flips switch on solar site

Posted on: February 24th, 2022 by admin No Comments


February 24, 2022




Feb 23, 2022


GRANITE FALLS — Tuesday’s (Feb. 22) rain did not dampen the afternoon’s ceremonial flipping of the switch that signified the completion of the new Brighter Future Solar utility-scale solar energy site located at 4463 Grace Chapel Road in Granite Falls.


“It’s exciting to go into the world of solar energy — it’s something that you read about in places like big cities and towns across the United States, but for us — to be able to do it here and make it work — that is what is exciting about seeing it in our community.” said Dr. Caryl Burns, mayor, Granite Falls.


The site, which spans 55 acres, is Blue Ridge Energy’s largest solar facility. It is designed to provide zero-carbon electricity and will save Blue Ridge Energy members money.


“It is a privilege for Caldwell County to be home to one of our region’s largest solar facilities and to know the impact this facility will make on reducing our carbon footprint and lowering peak rates for Blue Ridge Energy customers,” said county Commissioner Mike LaBrose, vice chairman, on attending the event.


The rows of solar panels that spread out across the field will generate, then send 19,000 mega-watt hours of carbon-free electricity annually to a grid, which is enough energy to power 1,600 homes.


“We’ve already seen this facility generate over 11 mega watt hours of power on a sunny day.” said Doug Johnson, chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Energy. “So it’s working as designed and working well and we’re excited about that.”


Blue Ridge Energy aims to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with the objective to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030.


The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in January, 2022 that wholesale electricity prices trended upward in 2021, primarily driven by the rise in natural gas prices. The Brighter Future Solar site will maintain stable affordable rates by regulating wholesale power costs. Over time, stable energy rates will save cooperative members money.


“We are excited about this because it fits into our vision of a brighter future for the cooperative and for our members,” said Johnson, as he spoke to the audience about the significance of the completion of the site. “We’re wanting to be involved strategically in doing things to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity for the future and this meets all three of our standards.”


Blue Ridge Energy entered into a 25-year power purchase agreement with the developers and investors including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, Osaka Gas Company (OGUSA), and Oriden. MHI and OGUSA are owners of the Brighter Future Solar project.


“We are so happy, honored, and excited to be able to walk together with you for 25 years,” said Tetsushi Ikuta, president of OGUSA, as he congratulated Blue Ridge Energy on the completion of the project.


Gray clouds loomed overhead as representatives from Blue Ridge Energy, MHI, OGUSA, and Oriden stepped up to the larger than life light switch, which was set against the backdrop of rows of solar panels poised to collect the faint rays of the hidden sun.


As the representatives ceremoniously flipped the switch to energize the Brighter Future Solar site there was a charge of excitement.


“It [decarbonization] starts with brave and passionate people like you — local people and organizations committed to bringing renewable energy to the places where they live, work, study, and spend time together.” said Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, president and chief executive officer of MHI, reflecting on the lessons he said he learned while working on the project. “And it starts in a place like this. Brighter Future Solar is, as we can clearly see here today, a local effort and the energy is being produced in this very community.”



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