Duke Energy completes first community solar site in Hardee County


Duke Energy announced the completion of its first community solar site in Hardee County, Fla., in its drive to make more solar power available for customers in Florida.

The Fort Green Renewable Energy Center is the first of 10 solar sites, totaling 750 megawatts (MW), that are part of the company’s new community solar program, Clean Energy Connection.

Duke Energy Florida customers can subscribe to solar power and earn credits toward their electricity bills without installing or maintaining their own equipment.

“Bringing cleaner resources onto the grid is important to our customers and our company,” said Duke Energy Florida State President Melissa Seixas. “By subscribing to the Clean Energy Connection program and supporting solar sites like this one, our customers are joining a community that is helping drive Florida to a cleaner energy future.”

Duke Energy built the 74.9-MW facility on approximately 500 acres of repurposed mining land in Hardee County, Fla. The project consists of nearly 265,000 solar panels, utilizing a fixed-tilt racking system that will produce enough carbon-free energy to effectively power more than 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.

The second Clean Energy Connection site, Bay Trail Renewable Energy Center in Citrus County, is expected to begin supporting Clean Energy Connection subscriptions later this summer.

Clean Energy Connection program allows customers to subscribe to kilowatt (kW) blocks of solar power from the company’s Clean Energy Connection solar portfolio. The monthly subscription fee will help pay for the cost of construction and operation of the solar power plants and is conveniently added to a customer’s regular electric bill.

The monthly subscription fee is fixed at $8.35 per kW. A customer with average usage of 1,000 kWh/month could subscribe to approximately 5 kW to cover their full usage. Subscribers receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the amount of solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month.

The bill credit rate for the first 36 months of the program participation will be 4 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour), and then starting with the 37th month of continuous enrollment, the bill credit rate increases by 1.5 percent every year. This bill credit amount varies each month with the actual solar energy produced, where it may be greater during the months with more direct sunlight.

The program sets aside 26 MW for income-qualified customers who participate in government subsidy programs or Duke Energy’s low-income energy efficiency program, Neighborhood Energy Saver.

The monthly $9.03 credit per kW subscribed will be higher than the fixed monthly $8.35 subscription fee per kW subscribed.

Since the bill credits are greater than the subscription fee, income-qualified customers will save each month for as long as they subscribe to the program.

The average subscription amount for income-qualified customers (5 kW) results in nearly $42 / year in bill savings.