Duke Energy connected 500 MW solar capacity in Carolinas in 2018

Duke Energy solar field

Duke Energy has connected more than 500 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity to the Carolinas’ system in 2018.

Over the past four years, Duke Energy has connected more than 2,500 MW to its grid in the Carolinas. This has made North Carolina No. 2 in the nation for overall solar power capacity.

Recently, Duke Energy brought online the Woodleaf Solar Facility in Rowan County, N.C. The 6-MW facility is comprised of 30,000 solar panels on a 116-acre site.

The solar plant has an innovative tracking system that allows the panels to pivot throughout the day to capture the maximum amount of sunshine. At peak output, the solar plant can power more than 1,000 homes.

Duke Energy launched a competitive bidding process for new solar capacity last year. The process, being overseen by an independent administrator, seeks to add 680 MW of new solar capacity in 2019 – enough to power about 125,000 homes at peak output.

A total of 78 projects bid 3,900 MW of solar capacity in the first tranche – with all projects offering energy prices below the company’s avoided cost. Projects can be built in both states. Winners will be selected later this year.

Duke Energy became one of the few companies in the Carolinas to offer solar leasing to commercial customers. A subsidiary of Duke Energy will build, own and operate onsite solar facilities that will allow customers in North Carolina and South Carolina to access renewable energy without paying a large upfront investment.

The company also launched its Shared Solar program, with a 7-MW solar facility in Dillon County, SC. Customers who subscribe to solar energy through the Shared Solar program, will receive a monthly bill credit for the value of the energy produced by their subscription size in the facility. The program also has a component for low-income customers.

“Combined with constructive legislation, our programs have solar energy growing in both North Carolina and South Carolina,” said Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology.

The company’s $62 million solar rebate program for residential, commercial and nonprofit customers in North Carolina helped 1,700 North Carolina customers go solar last year, hitting capacity limits for both residential and nonresidential customers.

In South Carolina, the company added nearly 7,000 private solar customers in the state since October 2015. South Carolina now ranks No. 2 in the Southeast for rooftop solar connected.