Principal Solar agrees PPA with Duke Energy for 78.5 MW PV plant

U.S. renewable energy developer Principal Solar has secured a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Duke Energy Corp. for a 78.5 MW solar plant it is building in Hope Mills, North Carolina.

The $173 million project is scheduled to be connected to the grid in early 2016, with Dallas-based Principal Solar set to secure full ownership rights of the plant from Innovative Solar Systems LLC no later than June 3.

Principal Solar released a press statement confirming the PPA agreement with Duke Energy, which is the leading utility in North Carolina and a pioneer on solar power investment. The Hope Mills project will become the largest solar farm east of the Rockies once complete, with only the huge utility-scale plants of Arizona and California to the west bigger.

"This project launches Principal Solar as a leader in the solar utility sector, meeting the growing demand for zero-emission, cost-efficient energy," said Principal Solar chairman and CEO Michael Gorton. "This high-quality project has a stable source of long-term revenue and represents another major step forward for the U.S. solar industry."

Duke Energy has been extremely proactive in delivering North Carolina’s energy transition, and has backed a series of utility-scale projects across the state. The utility also owns and operates a number of solar parks and currently has more than 278 MW of solar PV on its books.

North Carolina is itself a keen advocate for solar power, and has installed the third-highest amount of PV capacity statewide in the U.S., after California and Arizona.