The Carolinas’ big solar day: 14 utility-scale projects selected for construction by Duke Energy

Halifax Solar Large

Employee Shawn Dwyer (371846) standing next to truck in front of solar panels at Halifax Solar Facility. Roanoke Rapids, NC. North Carolina.

Bringing more cost-effective solar energy to the Carolinas, 14 utility-scale projects have been selected during an independently judged bidding process – part of a 2017 comprehensive renewable energy law. Based on an independent evaluation process, Duke Energy will produce or purchase a total of 602 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from projects under the North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy (CPRE) program.

According to independent administrator Accion Group, customers will see savings of around $375 million over the 20-year contract period versus the company’s Avoided Cost – the price at which many solar contracts had been set prior to the CPRE program.

“There was robust interest in the CPRE program, and the selected projects will provide 20 years of cost-effective energy to the Duke Energy system. Given the response, we are expecting the next phase of the program to also bring cost savings to customers,” said Harry Judd of the Accion Group, which independently administered the solicitation process.

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With the winning projects selected, Duke Energy and the winning bidders will execute contracts for the projects over the next few months. Once the contracting process is complete, Duke Energy and Accion Group will finalize a report of all projects to be filed with the NCUC around June 2019.

Most projects are targeted to be online around the end of 2020. However, the dates may vary depending upon local approvals and any construction delays.

Selection process

The 14 projects represent the most competitive of the 78 that were submitted when bidding opened last July. The process used was approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to select projects that would deliver the greatest cost and system benefits to customers.

There were 10 projects selected from North Carolina and four projects from South Carolina. Two projects selected included battery storage with the solar facility. They were not Duke Energy projects.

Duke Energy was awarded six projects totaling about 270 MW – representing almost 45 percent of the total awarded. With 40 solar projects already in North Carolina, the final results showcase Duke Energy’s competitiveness at building solar power plants.

Duke Energy self-developed projects selected:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 69-MW – Catawba County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 25-MW – Gaston County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 50-MW – Cleveland County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 22.6-MW – Surry County, N.C.
  • Duke Energy Renewables: 22.6-MW – Cabarrus/Stanly counties, N.C.

Winning utility acquisition project selected:

  • Duke Energy Progress: 80-MW – Onslow County, N.C.

More about CPRE program

One of the provisions of 2017’s “Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina” law was a process that would create a competitive bidding structure for solar energy.

Projects can be built anywhere on the Duke Energy system in North Carolina or South Carolina. The bids can come from any company, including Duke Energy, and can be in the form of power purchase agreements (PPA), utility self-developed facilities or utility asset acquisitions.

“Duke Energy companies will complete six of the 14 winning projects – a strong reflection of how competitive we are in the open market at building renewable energy projects,” added Caldwell.

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