Google is first buyer of Duke Energy solar using utility's new Green Source Rider

Dive Brief:

  • Google is the first company to buy into Duke Energy Carolina’s Green Source Rider program. The tech giant will buy the full 61 MW output of the Rutherford Farms solar array to serve a data center within the same grid. The 15 year Google contract will support Duke’s long term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Cypress Creek Renewables, the project developer.
  • The Duke Green Source Rider program allows big private sector customers, called key accounts, to contract with their utilities over a three year to fifteen year term for the purchase of renewables-generated power at the standard retail rate and without a shift of cost to other ratepayers.
  • Rutherford Farms will be one of the biggest utility-scale solar installations in North Carolina.

Dive Insight:

Google has publicly called for programs similar to Duke’s Green Source rider and they are now available in 10 states, the company said in a blog post.

Utilities’ key account customers are finding “economically compelling alternatives to their traditional regulated utility’s offerings,” according to a recent report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

That trend of large companies looking beyond their utilities for power supply has some worried about a new "death spiral" for the sector, but many power companies, like Duke, are beginning to step up with their own renewables programs. 

“Within this shifting landscape, utilities are beginning to proactively respond to these new interests through a variety of new renewable energy products, programs, or projects," SEPA notes in its report.

Duke's offering is a typical “sleeve project,” with a third party handling development and operations through a wholesale rate PPA from the utility. The utility uses its existing infrastructure and transaction management capabilities to “wheel” the project output to the key account customer at its retail rate.

The renewable energy credits (RECs) for the purchase of the Rutherford Farms project output will go to Google and will not be applied by Duke Energy Carolinas toward meeting its 12.5% renewables by 2021 obligation under the North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS).

Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Corporate News