Duke Energy reaches agreement with solar developers in North Carolina


A minor dispute had been brewing in North Carolina – the state with the third-largest amount of installed PV – between state utility Duke Energy and a number of utility-scale solar developers. However, all sides have applied a commendable level of diplomacy, coming together to thrash out an agreement that suits all parties.

Originally, Duke Energy had said that some of the solar plants that are being built in the state were being put up in problematic areas, especially the ones that were built in rural areas, which have lower-voltage distribution systems. This was putting a strain on substations, as too much energy was being sent into the circuits.

In response, a new grid connection criterion was developed, but some of the developers were unhappy with how it was being applied. The new agreement, which entered into action on 24 August, sees Duke Energy allow projects that failed to meet the criteria to go ahead, but gives them the power to disconnect the plants if they start causing problems for the grid.

“Duke Energy recently agreed with a number of leading solar developers on a new screening process to make sure solar continues its sustainable growth in North Carolina – while maintaining the integrity and reliability of the electric grid,” a Duke Energy spokesperson told pv magazine.

Duke Energy has a large solar presence in North Carolina, currently in ownership of 500 MW of solar plants in the state, with PPAs in place for a further 1,300 MW of solar projects. The state is becoming one of the leaders in the U.S. for PV, with a further 3,300 MW of proposed solar projects pending in North Carolina.