By Steve DeVane
An energy company that sells power to cities and electric cooperatives is planning to build a solar facility near Eastover.
NTE Carolinas Solar, an affiliate of NTE Energy, hopes to start construction on the project next year. The facility will be on Al Ray Road, which is off Dunn Road between Fayetteville and Eastover.
Most solar farms reach agreements with Duke Energy or other utilities to sell them electricity over a set period of time. The company building the facility recovers its investment and makes a profit with the money the utility pays for the power.
NTE Energy instead provides electricity it generates to wholesale customers, such as cities and electric cooperatives. The company can’t sell power to retail customers because it’s not a public utility. It has agreements to sell power to Concord, Winterville, Kings Mountain and New River Light and Power Company, which provides electricity to Boone and Appalachian State University.
Michael Green, NTE Energy’s senior vice president for development, said the company has contracts to sell power to nine municipalities and cooperatives and is close to reaching agreements with about five others.
“Many want to have access to a dedicated renewable source,” he said.
The facility in Eastover will provide power for customers participating in the company’s voluntary solar program, Green said. The 30 megawatt project, which will be known as the Fayetteville Solar Energy Center, will produce enough electricity for about 6,000 homes and is expected to be running in 2020.
The power from the solar farm will not go directly to the specific customers, but part of NTE’s Energy electricity from the facility will be dedicated to those who want a portion of renewable energy.
Green said NTE Energy is in the final stages of negotiations with Duke Energy to connect the solar project to the power grid.