- The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved Duke Energy's plan announced in September to invest $500 million in 278 megawatts of new utility-scale solar through building 3 new installations and contracting for the output of 5 others.
- Duke said the investment will help it meet its state-imposed requirement to get 6% of its 2015 electricity sales from renewables. The investment will also move Duke toward the mandate’s 2021 requirement for Duke to obtain 12.5% of its electricity from renewables or energy efficiency.
- Duke’s ownership of solar generation through its facilities and through power purchase agreements will total 748 megawatts when the 3 new solar plants go online by the end of 2015. That is just less than the 825 megawatt capacity of Duke's Cliffside Steam Station coal plant.
Solar is just less than 1% of U.S. electricity but made up more than a third of all new U.S. generation in the first 3 quarters of 2014.
Solar advocates applauded Duke's investment in utility-scale solar but called for more from Duke in the rooftop solar sector where, they say, the utility is impeding policy innovation. “Duke will not allow solar leasing or community-owned solar,” NC WARN Energy Policy Specialist Nancy LaPlaca told Utility Dive.
Duke will build the 65 megawatt Warsaw Solar Facility developed by Strata Solar, the 40 megawatt Elm City Solar Facility developed by HelioSage Energy, and the 23 megawatt Fayetteville Solar Facility developed by Tangent Energy Solutions. The Warsaw project will reportedly be the biggest solar PV installation east of the Mississippi River.
Duke’s 150 megawatts of new PPAs are with Innovative Solar Systems’ 48 megawatt plant, FLS Energy’s 48 megawatt plant, Birdseye Renewable Energy’s 20 megawatt and 19 megawatt plants, and Element Power’s 15 megawatt plant. Duke's 33 other 2014 solar PPAs total 109 megawatts.