Power company prepares for solar eclipse

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar energy production, but the shadow cast during Monday's solar eclipse means less solar power will be available during one of the peak times of solar energy production.

Currently there are about 35 solar power plants across the state of North Carolina, and about 30 of those are here in the east, Duke Energy Spokesperson Randy Wheeless said.

One of those solar power farms is next to the Washington Airport and produces five megawatts of energy per hour during the its peak production, Duke Energy technician Neil Mayo said. That kind of energy output can power up to 1,000 homes.

But experts like ECU's Electrical Engineering Professor Jason Yao says even though there will be less solar energy produced during the eclipse, people shouldn't notice anything different when they go to flip a switch or plug in a device.

"It is something that really the power company deals with every day. So it is nothing to worry about," Yao said.

Faete Filho is another electrical engineering professor at ECU. He says solar energy is really only a supplement to other power sources and makes up less than three percent of the energy production across the United States.

Yao says the power company will adjust the power grid the same way they do when the sun rises and sets everyday.

Duke Energy says they have been practicing different scenarios to make sure they are prepared to keep the power grid stable during the temporary darkness.

"Again we do this everyday, but the eclipse is a bit unique because it happens so wide spread throughout the state and happens pretty quickly," Wheeless said.

Before and after the eclipse, Duke Energy says it will quickly make the switch from solar energy and instead power the grid with either natural gas or hydro electricity.

"It should be like any other day people should be assuming there power is going to be there when they flip the switch," Wheeless said "It's going to be on whether we are in the middle of the eclipse or the eclipse is over."