By John Downey
Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) is making a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina.
The company will acquire and construct three solar facilities — totaling 128 megawatts of capacity — including the largest solar photovoltaic facility east of the Mississippi River. The three facilities will be in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties.
Duke also signed power-purchase agreements for five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 megawatts of capacity.
Together, the eight projects will have a capacity of 278 megawatts. The $500 million commitment includes the investment in the three facilities and the value of the five long-term power-purchase contracts.
“This is Duke Energy’s largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers,” Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources, said in a statement Monday morning. “We are bringing large amounts of renewable energy onto our system in the most cost-effective way possible.”
The solar commitments are the result of Charlotte-based Duke’s request for proposals issued in February for new solar capacity. The company says the initiative will help further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy portfolio and meet North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.
Duke Energy will own the following projects:
- 65-megawatt Warsaw Solar Facility developed by Strata Solar in Duplin County.
- 40-megawatt Elm City Solar Facility developed by HelioSage Energy in Wilson County.
- 23-megawatt Fayetteville Solar Facility developed by Tangent Energy Solutions in Bladen County.
The Warsaw Solar Facility will be the largest solar photovoltaic plant east of the Mississippi River.