Duke Energy Wins More Than 600 MW In Competitive Solar Procurement

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Duke Energy will produce or purchase a total of 602 MW of energy from solar projects under North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy (CPRE) program.

As part of a 2017 comprehensive renewable energy law, 14 utility-scale projects for North and South Carolina were selected during an independently judged bidding process by Accion Group. Of these 14 projects, Duke Energy was awarded six, located in North Carolina. (The other winners have not been revealed.)

According to Accion Group, customers will see savings of around $375 million over a 20-year contract period versus Duke Energy’s avoided cost – the price at which many solar contracts had been set prior to the CPRE program.

“There was robust interest in the CPRE program, and the selected projects will provide 20 years of cost-effective energy to the Duke Energy system,” says Harry Judd of the Accion Group, which independently administered the solicitation process.

Bidding for the program opened last July, and 78 projects were submitted for consideration. The process used was approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to select projects that would deliver the greatest cost and system benefits to customers.

“As solar energy expands in the Carolinas, the competitive bidding process will lead to better prices and more geographic diversity of projects,” comments Rob Caldwell, senior vice president and president of Duke Energy renewables and business development. “This will enhance Duke Energy’s efforts to promote a cleaner energy mix at lower prices for customers.”

Duke Energy and the other to-be-announced winning bidders will execute contracts for the projects over the next few months, and the projects will then be filed with the NCUC.

Most projects are targeted to be online around the end of 2020. However, the dates may vary depending upon local approvals and any construction delays.

In total, there were 10 projects selected from North Carolina and four projects from South Carolina. Two projects selected included battery storage with the solar facility. (They were not Duke Energy projects.)

Duke Energy’s self-developed projects will include as follows:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 69 MW – Catawba County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 25 MW – Gaston County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 50 MW – Cleveland County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 22.6 MW – Surry County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 22.6 MW – Cabarrus/Stanly counties, N.C.

A utility acquisition project includes an 80 MW Duke Energy Progress facility in Onslow County, N.C.

One of the provisions of 2017’s “Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina” law was a process that would create a competitive bidding structure for solar energy. Projects can be built anywhere on the Duke Energy system in North Carolina or South Carolina. The bids can come from any company, including Duke Energy, and can be in the form of power purchase agreements, utility self-developed facilities or utility asset acquisitions.

“Duke Energy companies will complete six of the 14 winning projects – a strong reflection of how competitive we are in the open market at building renewable energy projects,” adds Caldwell.

Duke Energy already has more than 3,000 MW of solar capacity connected to its grid in the Carolinas, which includes those owned by Duke Energy and those owned by other companies. It expects to invest or procure a total of 7,000 MW by 2025.

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