Aug. eclipse could drain North Carolina solar farm of energy

by WorldTribune Staff, July 25, 2017

Until this August, the biggest threat to the Union County solar farm in North Carolina was coyotes who looked to make a meal out of the sheep who keep the grass trimmed.

The solar farm has used dogs to keep the coyotes at bay, but it won’t be able to stop what is coming on Aug. 21.

North Carolina ranks second in the U.S. in solar energy production.

A solar eclipse could have a huge impact on the 500-acre solar farm, built by Duke Energy, and those who rely on it for power.

The near-total eclipse will bring energy production to a near halt at a time when Duke Energy is relying on it to keep power flowing, the company said.

“Our engineers have studied how we manage that drop in power,” said Duke Energy’s Randy Wheeless, who added that losing the sun during the eclipse will be costly for the company.

The loss will be “about 1,500 megawatts, which is about two gas power plants,” Wheeless said. “So, a lot of drop-off quickly, and then it will ramp back up.”

Duke Energy said its engineers have been working on a plan to transfer power from other areas to avoid an interruption.

North Carolina is second in the country, behind California, when it comes to solar energy production, Wheeless said.

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