Duke Energy’s 128 MW North Carolina PV project approved


North Carolina-based clean energy company Duke Energy has received approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to build 128 MW of solar power projects across the state.

Duke Energy’s project will comprise three large-scale solar PV plants: a 65 MW installation in Duplin County; a 40 MW installation in Wilson County, and a 23 MW plant in Bladen County.

First Solar has been confirmed as the EPC for the Wilson County project (and will also supply the park’s solar panels), while Phoenix Solar will EPC the Bladen County project, with panels provided by Yingli Solar. The 65 MW project in Duplin County will also benefit from First Solar modules, with EPC provided by local firm, Strata Solar.

Completion date for all three projects is penciled in for the end of next year, which will ensure all are eligible for the North Carolina solar tax credit, set to expire at the end of 2015. The federal solar tax credit is then valid for another year after that.

In addition to this 128 MW pipeline, Duke Energy has also entered into a 150 MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with a raft of other solar developers in the state. These projects do not require NCUC approval, confirmed Duke Energy spokesman Randy Wheeless. PPA pricing for these projects are thought to be in the range of $60/MWh – $70/MWh, Wheeless said.

North Carolina is fast-becoming the poster child of the U.S. solar industry. A Fallon Research poll conducted recently by North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) found that 90% of voters in the state – across all political parties – are supportive of solar, with 88% also supportive of energy-efficient programs. Current estimations put the state’s installed cumulative PV capacity at more than 630 MW, placing it third overall in the U.S., behind California and Arizona.