Duke Energy energizing community solar in Florida, floating solar in N.C.

Floating solar at Fort Bragg

Duke Energy announced two important projects this week: Duke Energy Florida will soon be utilizing its first of several community solar projects, and a military base in North Carolina will be producing solar power from the largest floating solar plant in the Southeast.

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On the community solar front, The Fort Green Renewable Energy Center is the first of 10 solar sites, totaling 750 megawatts (MW), that are part of the company’s new community solar program, Clean Energy Connection. Launched in April 2022, the Clean Energy Connection program allows customers to subscribe to kilowatt (kW) blocks of solar power from the company’s Clean Energy Connection solar portfolio. The monthly subscription fee will help pay for the cost of construction and operation of the solar power plants and is conveniently added to a customer’s regular electric bill.

The monthly subscription fee is fixed at $8.35 per kW. A customer with average usage of 1,000 kWh/month could subscribe to approximately 5 kW to cover their full usage. Subscribers receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the amount of solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month.

The program sets aside 26 MW for income-qualified customers who participate in government subsidy programs or Duke Energy’s low-income energy efficiency program, Neighborhood Energy Saver. For income-qualified customers, the fixed monthly $9.03 credit per kW subscribed will always be higher than the fixed monthly $8.35 subscription fee per kW subscribed.

The 74.9-MW facility was built on approximately 500 acres of repurposed mining land in Hardee County, Fla. The project consists of nearly 265,000 solar panels, utilizing a fixed-tilt racking system that will produce enough carbon-free energy to effectively power more than 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.

The second Clean Energy Connection site, Bay Trail Renewable Energy Center in Citrus County, is expected to begin supporting Clean Energy Connection subscriptions later this summer.

The Southeast’s largest floating solar plant will be producing power soon at the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina after a major utility energy service contract with Duke Energy and its prime contractor Ameresco.

The 1.1-megawatt solar facility is part of a $36 million contract that focused on energy resilience and security at Fort Bragg, including infrastructure modernization, lighting and water upgrades, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and boiler system improvements.

“Duke Energy’s work with Fort Bragg will lead to better energy efficiency and cost savings at the base,” said Brian Savoy, Duke Energy’s chief strategy and commercial officer. “We’re excited to help put Fort Bragg at the forefront of renewable energy innovation through this unique floating solar facility.”

The floating solar system was built on the Big Muddy Lake located at Camp Mackall. Fort Bragg will own and operate the solar system.

“The opportunity to implement this innovative use of clean energy technology for a military base as notable as Fort Bragg was one that our Federal Solutions team was thrilled to lead on,” said Nicole Bulgarino, Ameresco executive vice president and general manager of Federal Solutions. “The completed floating solar system – still an underutilized technology in the U.S. – will assure the Army’s mission with clean energy.”

The floating solar installation is being paired with a 2-MW battery energy storage system. The system will supply power to Fort Bragg from the local grid and provide power during electric service outages.

Fort Bragg has the largest population of any U.S. military installation, with more than 270,000 people working and living within its boundaries. Among the many essential organizations at Fort Bragg, the installation is the home headquarters for U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

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