Duke Energy to spend $500 million bringing solar power to North Carolina

Duke Energy announced a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina.

This culminates the company's request for proposals (RFP) issued in February 2014 for new solar power capacity. It will help Duke Energy further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy portfolio and meet North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). It also provides customers greater access to renewable energy in a cost-effective manner.

The company will acquire and construct three solar power facilities — totaling 128 MW of capacity —  including the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility east of the Mississippi River. The three facilities will be located in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties.

Duke Energy also signed power-purchase agreements with five new solar energy projects in the state, representing 150 MW of capacity. Together, the eight projects will have a capacity of 278 MW. The $500 million commitment includes the investment in the three facilities and the value of the five long-term power-purchase contracts.

Duke Energy will own the following projects:

·      65 MW – Warsaw Solar Facility, Duplin County (developed by Strata Solar)

·      40 MW – Elm City Solar Facility, Wilson County (developed by HelioSage Energy)

·      23 MW – Fayetteville Solar Facility, Bladen County, near Cumberland County line (developed by Tangent Energy Solutions)

At 65 MW, the Warsaw Solar Facility in Duplin County will be the largest PV plant east of the Mississippi River.

Duke Energy will purchase power from these new projects:

·      48 MW – Bladen County (developed by Innovative Solar Systems)

·      48 MW – Richmond County (developed by FLS Energy)

·      20 MW – Scotland County (developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy)

·      19 MW – Cleveland County (developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy)

·      15 MW – Beaufort County (developed by Element Power US)

In addition to these five power-purchase agreements, Duke Energy has signed 33 other agreements in North Carolina in 2014 for projects totaling 109 MW of capacity.

Duke Energy's RFP targeted solar facilities greater than 5 MW. The RFP was limited to projects that were in the company's current transmission and distribution queue.

For projects Duke Energy will own, the company must obtain approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for the transfer of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the developing company to Duke Energy.

Duke Energy will then take ownership of the facilities and be responsible for building and having them in operation by the end of 2015. No NCUC approval is needed for the company's power-purchase agreements, which are part of Duke Energy's REPS compliance and are recovered through a rider mechanism.

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