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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Charlotte City Council to vote on lithium center incentives, solar farm contract 

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Albemarle wants to turn this vacant factory building at 6800 Solectron Drive into a lithium research center.

The Charlotte City Council will hold a public hearing and vote Monday night on the city's $7.2 million share of financial incentives for a proposed lithium research center in northeast Charlotte. The council also will vote on whether to accept a cost increase in electricity from a planned solar farm.

Charlotte-based Albemarle Corporation announced plans in December to build a $200 million Advanced Lithium Technology Center in University Research Park. The company, which supplies lithium and other specialty minerals and chemicals, said the new center would create 200 jobs.

Mecklenburg County has already approved a $4,201,706 grant, while the state has approved a $1.24 million Jobs Development Investment Grant and community college training funds. All require the chemical company to meet targets for jobs and investments.

Albemarle Corp. is expanding to take advantage of the rising demand for lithium, which is used in electric vehicle batteries.


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Solar contract changes 

The council also will vote on whether to revise a contract with the developer of the city's planned solar farm in Iredell County, to reflect a 25% cost increase for electricity. The cost increase means the city would pay an extra $750,000 a year for solar power, instead of saving money on its electric bill, as originally expected. That's about 2% to 3% of the city's annual electricity cost.

City officials announced the possibility in November after the developer announced the original deal no longer made the project feasible. City sustainability staff say the city needs the solar farm to help meet its climate goals under the Strategic Energy Action Plan.

The changes will be to an agreement that includes Duke Energy's Green Source Advantage program and the developer, Ecoplexus.

A pre-meeting including 2022 year-end reviews by the police and fire departments begins at 5 p.m. The regular meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

See the agenda on the city website: https://charlottenc.gov/CityClerk/Agendas/January%2023,%202023.pdf

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.