CHARLOTTE – Charlotte City Council is moving forward with a solar farm project with Duke Energy and Ecoplexus despite high costs. City leaders voted 10-1 Monday night to approve the project.
The Charlotte City Council wants to power city buildings from an Iredell County solar farm with the goal of becoming carbon-free by 2030.
The ambitious plan and project have supporters in the community.
“As a young person, I will have to deal with the consequences of the decisions you all made today,” resident Isabelle Elizondo told the Charlotte City Council.
“If you vote no on this bill, I can only assume that fossil fuel-funded disinformation campaigns are holding you hostage,” said supporter Tina Katsanos.
When the Charlotte City Council awarded the contract in 2020, the city expected an average savings of $100,000. But since then, the solar manufacturer says it has struggled with COVID-19 delays, supply chain difficulties, increases in commodity prices and interest rates, and tariffs on solar panels from China and other Southeast Asian countries. Now the city says they will lose an average of $750,000 a year on the project.
Councilman Tariq Bokhari opposes the project because of questions about the project’s finances and Duke Energy’s reliability to deliver power with solar power.
“If you’re experiencing power outages now, this is just the beginning,” Bokhari said.
Bukhari was not the only one to vote. Councilor Dimple Ajmera says the project is vital and the city can’t let costs get in the way of progress.
“We have a choice to be bold and seize the moment and address one of the most pressing challenges facing our generation, carbon pollution,” Ajmera said.
#CLTCC approves terms of new solar project. More on that in 10 and 11. To wrap things up, the Charlotte City Council approved the Lean Nation Project for the JW Clay Parking Deck. They are now holding a closed session to review the body camera footage. The meeting is over.
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) January 24, 2023
The city says that once the solar project is up and running, the system will bring the city 35% closer to its goal of net-zero carbon municipal buildings by 2030 and meet 17% of the city’s electricity use.
The city says challenges with the project are happening nationwide.
Charlotte City Council will pay nothing until the solar farm is up and running.
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