Duke Energy is lending credence to the term “The Sunshine State” for Florida. Last week it announced a new plan to install 500 megawatts of solar power in Florida by 2024. Its parent, North Carolina-based Duke Energy, has already joined some other major utilities by investing in renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
For instance, last year the utility and power producer called for adding 300 megawatts of solar power in North Carolina. More recently the company acquired a majority stake of REC Solar in February 2015. REC Solar is one of the larger commercial solar installers in the country. Duke Energy will invest up to $225 million in that company, which has a project pipeline of more than 140 MWs.
The Ten-Year Site Plan, which Duke Energy Florida filed with the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) last week, outlines its utility-scale solar plans for Florida. Under the new documents Duke Energy planned to start building its first project, an up to 5 megawatt solar power plant, later this year. By 2018 it anticipated completing up to 35 megawatts of new solar power in Florida. The company said it will use these initial projects to evaluate costs and monitor how the solar impacts the electric grid infrastructure there.
“Innovative investments in solar energy will provide customers with more options to use this resource, while diversifying our energy mix and continuing to meet the needs of Florida's growing economy and population," said Alex Glenn, state president, Duke Energy Florida.
While the company did not discuss its plans for future residential solar in Florida it did mention that thus far it has helped fund roughly 2,000 rooftop solar arrays in Florida, representing more than $8 million in investments. Duke Energy Florida also developed a Solar Service Center that it said will help it integrate about 20 megawatts of rooftop solar on homes and businesses. It added that 1 megawatt of large-scale solar is equivalent to about 200 residential rooftop systems.
Under the newly announced 10-year plan Duke Energy Florida anticipated that increased solar energy generation and some natural gas plant expansions will allow it to retire half of its coal plants in Florida by 2018.
Overall, Duke Energy said it plans to invest $2-$3 billion into renewable energy in the next five years across its service territories.Tweet