Environmentalists call for better solar energy policies

by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Local environmental groups are calling for Charlotte to improve its solar energy policies because Charlotte is the only city in the state that exceeds federal pollution standards.

On Thursday, clean air advocates called for immediate action.

“Charlotte has always had some problems with clean air and we can significantly reduce our air pollution by using solar power to power our lives,” said Graham Givens, of Environment North Carolina.

Councilman John Autry said he supports this push for more solar energy.

“Hopefully when the city manager's budget recommendation comes forward to us in the next couple of months, in there would be money to rewrite our city code,” Autry said.

Autry would like to make it easier for properties to become zoned for solar energy.

“The codes we are dealing with was back in the '90s before solar became such an important part of our future,” he said.

The city recently approved rezoning for the North Carolina Music Factory to power its signs and banners with solar energy.

Environmental advocates also want the city to invest more in solar panels, including adding them to public buildings like the Government Center.

Autry said the city is considering adding solar panels to the Blue Line Park and Ride Centers.

Most recently, Charlotte spent $1.1 million to install solar panels on the Charlotte Area Transit System garage on South Tryon Street.

Channel 9 asked the city how much money has been saved using solar panels and other publicly-funded installations.

David Feltman, CATS Manager of Project Development, sent a response saying, “The solar panels generated about 337,087 KWh of power in its first full year of operation, about 7% of the facility’s energy use, for a one year savings of about $21,000 in facility energy costs.  The system also provides drop-down electrical capabilities for future electric bus charging stations should a viable vehicle be available in the future.”

Environment North Carolina also released a new report Thursday comparing solar power in major cities across the United States.

Charlotte was ranked 26th out of 57 cities. Raleigh is ranked 19th.

Click here for a complete look at the report.

To see more local news stories, click here.