By John Downey
Duke Energy Renewables plans to invest $225 million over the next several years in building and operating solar projects for commercial customers after purchasing a majority stake in California solar company.
Duke Renewables and REC Solar of San Luis Obispo, Calif., declined to provide the financial details of the purchase. But Duke will use the $225 million to purchase about half of the projects REC Solar develops in the next several years.
Marc Manly, head of Duke Energy Corp.’s (NYSE:DUK) unregulated, non-utility operations that include Duke Renewables, says REC Solar has proved its ability to deliver solar projects for commercial customers in the retail, manufacturing, agriculture, technology, government and nonprofit markets.
“Through this arrangement, REC Solar will be better equipped to expand its offerings to commercial customers and provide an array of cost-efficient energy solutions,” he says. It also builds on “Duke Energy’s mission of giving commercial customers solutions that reduce energy costs and achieve their sustainability goals,” he adds.
The purchase and investment could position Duke Renewables to take advantage of opportunities in South Carolina, where new legislation allows developers to build projects and lease them to commercial customers.
But it is clearly a much broader deal than that. REC Solar has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon. It has worked on projects across the country, including in the Carolinas.
REC Solar CEO Allen Bucknam, says the deal with Charlotte-based Duke allows his company to expand its operations.
“We plan to extend the benefits of clean, distributed energy solutions to previously under-served small and medium-sized businesses,” he says. “The Duke Energy relationship realizes our strategy to be the one-stop shop for commercial solar by securing a predictable and streamlined customer financing process.”