What, No Opposition? The Latest on Duke’s Unusual Mount Sterling Microgrid

Feb. 7, 2017
You won’t see this often. North Carolina regulators have canceled a hearing on an energy project – Duke Energy’s Mount Sterling microgrid – because no one had anything bad to say about it.

You won’t see this often. North Carolina regulators have canceled a hearing on an energy project – Duke Energy’s Mount Sterling microgrid – because no one had anything bad to say about it.

Energy projects are notoriously galvanizing. Even small rooftop solar projects sometimes get kicked to the curb by someone who doesn’t like the looks of them. Nimbyism and energy at times seem inseparable.

But no one has expressed opposition to Duke Energy’s request for a certificate of public convenience for the Mount Sterling microgrid. Duke filed the application in November before the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

“The commission has not received any complaints or protests in this docket. Further, the commission staff consulted with counsel for the public staff and was informed that the public staff has not received any complaints or protests in this docket,” wrote the NCUC (Docket NO. E-2, SUB 1127).

In addition, Duke has “received positive feedback regarding the microgrid facility as a part of its collaborative efforts with Asheville area customers,” said the NCUC in a decision canceling a hearing scheduled for today at the Haywood County Courthouse.

The Mount Sterling microgrid includes a 10-kW solar installation and a 95-kWh zinc-air battery storage unit. Built as a non-wires alternative, the small microgrid promises to rid Great Smoky Mountains of four miles of distribution wire and return about 13 acres of wilderness to its natural state.

So rather than obstructing a scenic vista, as so many energy projects do, it’s improving the view.

So rather than obstructing a scenic vista, as so many energy projects do, it’s improving the view.

“There’s a lot to love about this microgrid project, and we’re glad customers recognize the benefits. We hope approval is around the corner,” said Randy Wheeless, spokesman for Duke Energy.

Expected to cost less than $1 million, the Mount Sterling microgrid will energize a communications tower. It respresents Duke’s first microgrid that will be built for commercial, not research purposes.

Track the progress of the Mount Sterling microgrid and other distributed energy projects. Subscribe to the Microgrid Knowledge Newsletter. 

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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