Eclipse could drain Union County solar farm of energy

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Duke Energy built the biggest solar farm in the Charlotte area in rural Union County and it just went online in April.

The solar eclipse on Aug. 21 could affect the solar farm, which spans 500 acres on South Rocky River Road and supplies power to customers in Monroe.

The farm has sheep to keep the grass trimmed and dogs to protect the sheep from coyotes.

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

“Our engineers have studied how we manage that drop in power,” said Randy Wheeless, with Duke Energy.

Losing the sun for that moment will be costly for the company, he said.

“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 engineers have been working on their plan to transfer power from other areas to avoid an interruption.

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

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