Duke Energy Plans to Add Solar Power to 850 North Carolina Sites

June 11, 2008

Duke Energy Carolinas plans to spend $100 million over the next 2 years to install roughly 20 megawatts (MW) of solar panels throughout North Carolina. The utility filed an application on June 6 with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, asking for approval to implement the solar distributed generation program. If the program is approved, Duke Energy Carolinas will install solar power systems on rooftops or on the ground at more than 850 customer locations throughout the state, including homes, schools, stores, and factories. Duke Energy Carolinas would own and operate the equipment, but customers who offer their location for solar panels will be rewarded by the utility.

The program will help Duke Energy Carolinas meet its obligations under the state's Renewable and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, which requires 0.02% of the electricity sold in the state to come from solar power in 2010, increasing to 0.2% solar power by 2018. Once the solar power is converted into alternating current, it will provide roughly 16 MW of power, enough to serve more than 2,600 homes. The utility has also contracted to buy the entire electrical output from an 18-MW solar photovoltaic facility that SunEdison plans to build north of Charlotte. Construction is slated for mid-2009, with commercial operation expected by the end of 2010. See the Duke Energy press releases on the proposed solar program and the SunEdison facility.

A report issued by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in April found that renewable portfolio standards (RPS), such as the one in North Carolina, now apply to nearly 50% of the electricity load in the United States. When the report was published, RPS policies were in place in 25 states and the District of Columbia. If those policies are met, roughly 60,000 MW of new renewable power facilities will be built by 2025, including 6,700 MW of solar power. And so far, the track record is good: from 1998 to 2007, more than 50% of the renewable power additions in the United States (excluding hydropower additions) occurred in states with RPS policies, including 165 MW of new solar generating capacity. In fact, the average compliance with state RPS policies was 94% in 2006, and so far, the programs have increased electricity rates by 1% or less. See the LBNL press release and the full report (PDF 1.5 MB). Download Adobe Reader.