Today (Sept. 15) Duke Energy announced $500 million in new solar projects and purchases totaling 278 megawatts of solar power. However, the investments are largely for giant solar projects and Greenpeace observed that the company continues to fight against net-metering and provisions that would allow more access to solar power for all in the state.
Duke Energy’s commitment to solar power is nothing sneeze at. The state is quickly becoming a leader on the east coast for solar energy. It’s commitment to own three new solar projects, the 65 megawatt Warsaw Solar Facility, the 40 megawatt Elm City Solar Facility, and the 23 megawatt Fayetteville Solar Facility, will likely make it the utility with the largest solar portfolio in the eastern U.S. for some time, especially considering they’re all slated to come online by the end of 2015. Duke Energy will also purchase energy from: two 48 megawatt projects, a 20 megawatt project, a 19 megawatt project and a 15 megawatt project, and previous announced solar projects, the utility looks like its commitment to solar is pretty strong and forward thinking.
"This is Duke Energy's largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers," said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources. "We are bringing large amounts of renewable energy onto our system in the most cost-effective way possible."
”We're encouraged to hear that North Carolinians will benefit from the cleaner air and water, cheaper electricity rates, jobs, and other advantages of more solar power, but unfortunately, Duke Energy's long term plans still call for renewable energy like solar to account for a mere 4% of its energy portfolio 15 years from now,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Monica Embrey.
Embrey observed that Duke Energy’s largest customers, among them Google, Apple, Facebook and the University of North Carolina, have demanded more renewable energy from Duke. "Those customers could benefit from even more solar power in North Carolina if Duke Energy would stop lobbying against policies like net metering that would help more residents and community leaders put solar on our homes, schools, and businesses,” she said.
Perhaps Duke Energy will consider such arrangements in the future. ”We will continue to seek opportunities to add renewable energy to our diverse energy portfolio," Cadwell said. "Through the years, Duke Energy's strength has been owning and operating generation assets reliably and safely for the benefit of our customers. Renewable energy is the next step in that evolution."Tweet