“RALEIGH — The state Utility Commission will weigh whether the GenX compound that has polluted the Cape Fear River Basin could contaminate the Wilkinson Solar Plant in the Terra Ceia community of Beaufort County.
Opponents of the 74-megawatt, industrial-scale solar generating plant have spent the past year raising concerns during N.C. Utility Commission hearings. It may be the first time GenX has been introduced into a solar regulatory proceeding in North Carolina.
Lawmakers and the governor are discussing the best ways to study and clean up GenX releases from Chemours’ Fayetteville manufacturing plant, which contaminated the Wilmington-area water supply. House and Senate Republicans introduced legislation May 17 authorizing Gov. Roy Cooper to close the plant if it doesn’t stop releasing the chemical.
But the possible presence of GenX and similar compounds in solar panels has added a new wrinkle to the debate. Environmental and conservation groups have pushed lawmakers to cut and clean up GenX emissions from chemical plants. Yet materials like GenX are used to increase strength and light transmission in film sheets that coat solar panels, and environmentalists want more solar facilities.
Wilkinson and environmental groups call the concerns overblown. They say solar panels used in North Carolina aren’t made with GenX or similar compounds. But a federal scientist who identified GenX pollutants in the Cape Fear basin recently said Chemours does use chemicals like GenX in the protective film coating solar panels, adding confusion to the dispute.
Wilkinson Solar opponents May 21 presented a proposed order to the commission asking it to halt expansion at the site. The order included a section suggesting GenX could leak into groundwater as the 288,120 solar panels age and degrade.
The Chicago-based solar developers submitted a counter order seeking the expansion, saying GenX isn’t in the equipment they plan to buy.
The Utility Commission has 30 days from May 21 to rule.”
Read the full article by Dan Way