The expansion will help diversify the company's energy portfolio and meet North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), Duke Energy says.
It will acquire and construct three solar facilities, totaling 128 MW of capacity:
- The 65 MW Warsaw solar facility in Duplin County (developed by Strata Solar);
- The 40 MW Elm City solar facility in Wilson County (developed by HelioSage Energy); and
- The 23 MW Fayetteville solar facility in Bladen County, near Cumberland County line (developed by Tangent Energy Solutions).
The Warsaw project will be the largest PV plant east of the Mississippi River, according to Duke Energy.
The company has also signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 MW of capacity:
- 48 MW in Bladen County (developed by Innovative Solar Systems);
- 48 MW in Richmond County (developed by FLS Energy);
- 20 MW in Scotland County (developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy);
- 19 MW in Cleveland County (developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy); and
- 15 MW in Beaufort County (developed by Element Power US).
Together, all 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 contracts.
‘This is Duke Energy's largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers,’ says Rob Caldwell, senior vice president of distributed energy resources.
Duke Energy's RFP targeted solar facilities greater than 5 MW and 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 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 PPAs, which are part of Duke Energy's REPS compliance and are recovered through a rider mechanism.