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Sat Feb 25, 2012, 01:51 PM

Chapel Hill company plans 15 solar farms this year (NC)

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/25/1881700/company-plans-15-solar-farms-this.html

CHAPEL HILL -- The thicket of aluminum crossbars, rising shoulder-high and gleaming in the sunlight, could easily fill several football fields. In less than two months, this geometrical framework sprouting in Chatham County will be covered over by an indigo meadow of solar panels.

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Strata Solar plans 15 industrial-scale solar farms for completion this year - including three in Wake and Chatham counties - each with a power capacity of about 5 megawatts. Strata Solar executives are closing in on a deal that would be the state's biggest solar farm, at about 20 megawatts.

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The cost of solar panels, including installation, has fallen from about $9 a watt to $3 a watt this year, and could fall to $1 a watt in several years, Wilhelm said.

"If we keep the current trend going, we are not going to be dependent on major subsidies by 2016," Wilhelm said.

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