- Duke Energy proposed a new bidding process for projects falling under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) that would allow the utility to compete against independent developers for renewable projects, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.
- Duke also wants to see a reduction in the size and contract lengths for PURPA projects. The proposal suggests trimming the size of projects to 1 MW instead of 5 MW while pushing for 10-year contract lengths rather than 15.
- It's not a new proposal: The North Carolina Utilities Commission rejected a similar idea almost two years ago.The utility acknowledges the proposal will be controversial, but says the size of North Carolina's solar market means it is time to rethink how it is developing.
The proposed changes to PURPA implementation are not new, but another big chunk of Duke's idea is: allowing the utility to competitively bid to develop projects.
Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology, told Charlotte Business Journal that one of the company's main goals is to own more renewable energy. “We’re going to suggest that we should be allowed to compete because ... it’s a market,” he said.
Behind California, North Carolina is the second-leading state for installed solar capacity. This summer, Duke struck a deal with more than 30 projects allowing them to interconnect to the grid. There were 3,300 MW of proposed solar projects pending in the state.
The state's position as a leading solar market has at times come with difficulties: Duke has seen a slate of utility-scale installations interfering with the system's ability to provide power to retail load customers, as circuits are overloaded or the intermittent nature of solar causes stability issues. To avoid these problems, the utility worked out an agreement with solar companies allowing their projects to move forward, while giving Duke the authority to disconnect them from the grid.