21 Appalachian Graduates Working on Largest Solar Farm in the East

Just a few miles from Fayetteville, North Carolina, 21 Appalachian State University graduates are key players in a history-making renewable energy facility scheduled to be completed this year – the largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains. With a capacity of 100 megawatts, the Fayetteville solar farm which the developer, Entropy Solar Integrators refers to as IS 46, is large enough to power between 10,000 and 14,000 average North Carolina homes, and will have the same beneficial effect on greenhouse gas emissions as keeping about 15,000 cars off the highways of the US.

ASU GraduatesThese Appalachian graduates come from several different majors such as Appropriate Technology, Building Science, Geology, and Geography. Most of these recent graduates completed their degree requirements at Appalachian State University between 2007 and 2015, and are now employed by the general contractor on this project, Entropy Solar Integrators, with headquarters in Charlotte, NC. On its website, Entropy lists a variety of projects within North Carolina, including solar farms ranging in size from 5.6 megawatts to 55 megawatts - in addition to the new Fayetteville site. Along with traditional solar farms, Entropy has built a 1 megawatt rooftop solar project at Ikea in Charlotte. Entropy also has projects outside of North Carolina, including a 1.3 megawatt solar canopy project for covered parking at a Volvo Mack Trucks facility in Maryland.

In all, about 400-500 workers were working at the Fayetteville site during the month of September, 2016. Most of these are employees of several subcontractors of Entropy. Entropy has relatively few employees, but these employees are playing key roles at the Fayetteville site. In many cases the Appalachian graduates of Entropy are team leaders supervising teams of employees from the sub-contractors operating there. To say that building this project is an immense job is an understatement. The 316,760 solar panels are installed on over 500 acres of land, or just under one square mile. Another feature of this site is that many of the panels are not fixed in one position. Instead they track the sun as it moves across the sky from east to west throughout the day.

Entropy is a young company and has played a key role in an exploding solar industry in North Carolina. In its few years of existence, Entropy has completed, or is under construction on 46 solar projects with the combined capacity of over 440 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 44,000 to 61,600 homes. Entropy and the other solar developers working in this state along with thousands of small solar producers have joined together over the last several years to reach the level of 2,294 megawatts of installed solar capacity in North Carolina by the end of 2015. This along with an expected installation of about 1,220 megawatts in 2016 (up from 1,140 megawatts in 2015) moved North Carolina into position as the second largest solar state, with only California having more capacity. In 2015 alone, $1.689 billion was invested on solar installations in North Carolina. This represents a 159% increase over the previous year, and is expected to grow again in 2016. Over the next 4 years, North Carolina is expected to install an additional 2,259 megawatts of additional capacity. This huge investment represents major economic development for the North Carolina.

Entropy would not have been able to complete any projects or reach its goals and objectives without talented employees, and Appalachian State has been a dependable pipeline for these people. These young Appalachian graduates are moving North Carolina and the world into a more sustainable position for the future - one solar panel at a time!

10 of the 21 Appalachian State University Graduates Employed by Entropy Solar Integrators at their I-46 Solar Farm near Fayetteville picured in photo are:
Kneeling, Left to Right
Lisa Myers - 2015, BS in Appropriate Technology
Christopher Bell - 2008, BS in Appropriate Technology
Kayla Runyan - 2015, BS in Appropriate Technology
Standing, Left to Right
Zachary Bullock - 2011, BS in Appropriate Technology
Cameron Steury - 2013, BS in Geography
Jacob Kinley - 2014, BS in Building Sciences
Adam Pinkston - 2012, BS in Appropriate Technology
Eric Prizzia - 2013, BS in Geology
Nick Hoit - 2013, BS in Appropriate Technology
Brian Hee - 2014, BS in Building Sciences

Mark your calendar for Monday, January 30 to see David March, the Founder and Managing Partner of Entropy Investment Management, give his lecture "Renewable Energy Investments: Opportunities and Risks" as part of the Sustainable Energy Speaker Series on the campus of ASU.

 

 

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