Duke Energy ready to promote commercial solar+storage solution

Solar+storage gets a lot of buzz, but it is still an unknown (as we noted in this cover story). Is the tide starting to turn? Duke Energy Renewables, for one, is ready to jump in. The utility is increasing savings for commercial solar customers through an alliance with Green Charge Networks, the country’s largest provider of commercial energy storage for retail, industrial and government customers.

The agreement, Duke says, provides these customers with “solar firming,” a way to smooth the peaks and valleys of a variable energy source. It also saves customers money by offsetting the higher prices of peak demand power.

Green Charge Networks, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will work closely with solar provider REC Solar to market energy storage systems with REC’s solar projects. Initial focus will be on the Southern California and Hawaiian markets.

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RELATED: New Financing Model, Acquisition Position REC Solar for Commercial Success 

Duke Energy acquired a majority interest in REC Solar and energy management company Phoenix Energy Technologies earlier this year.

“Our goal is to make it easier for customers to combine solar and storage, so they can benefit from high quality, consistent and economical power 24/7,” said Greg Wolf, president Duke Energy Renewables and Commercial Portfolio. “In addition, through Phoenix ET, we’ll also have the ability to offer other energy management systems for those customers seeking a complete and integrated energy savings platform.”

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REC Solar, based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., serves customers nationwide in the retail, manufacturing, agriculture, technology, government and nonprofit sectors and was ranked by PBN Research as the leading solar company in Hawaii by 2014 revenue.

“Energy storage adds to the list of compelling reasons why businesses should go solar,” said Al Bucknam, CEO, REC Solar. “Commercial customers save money by adding energy storage to reduce their peak demand, which can account for up to 50 percent of their electricity bill.”

RELATED: The case for solar+storage as valuable protection for vulnerable residents 

With a combination of lithium-ion battery technology and predictive software, Green Charge systems will draw power from the REC Solar system and the grid during off-peak hours, when electricity is inexpensive, and release it during peak hours, when electricity is more expensive.

“Energy storage is the ideal complement to REC Solar’s offering, helping customers get the most out of a sustainable resource, securing their investment through solar firming and lowering energy costs,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “By partnering with the largest electric power holding company in the United States and REC Solar, we add momentum to our domestic expansion plans.”

Both REC Solar and Green Charge Networks provide competitive, customer-friendly financing options. Green Charge offers a financing model that allows customers to reduce energy costs with no capital output. REC Solar offers tailored financing packages, including leases and power purchase agreements, through an efficient and streamlined financing relationship with Duke Energy.

The Green Charge energy storage platform, a scalable, modular system that monitors facility loads on a second-by-second basis, received the 2015 Product of the Year award from Energy Manager Today.

With behind-the-meter solar, energy storage and demand management offerings, Duke Energy has created a compelling platform of onsite energy solutions for commercial customers large and small.

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