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2020 was a record-breaking year in solar for Duke Energy customers in North Carolina

image credit: Photo by Scott Ritchie

Solar power continued to grow in North Carolina in 2020 with more Duke Energy customers using solar power than ever before.

Driven by the company’s five-year, $62 million solar rebate program, which helps pay for the significant upfront costs of solar systems, about 5,500 Duke Energy customers installed private solar systems at their homes and businesses in 2020. Today, more than 18,000 Duke Energy customers have a private solar system.

"Our customers want more renewable energy and Duke Energy is making that a reality for them,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We’re also connecting large-scale solar plants – owned and operated by Duke Energy and other developers.”

During 2020, Duke Energy connected almost 350 megawatts of solar power capacity, which could power roughly 60,000 homes. Major projects in 2020 included Duke Energy’s 69-megawatt (MW) Maiden Creek solar facility in Catawba County and the 25-MW Gaston County solar facility in Bessemer City.

Duke Energy owns and operates more than 40 solar facilities in North Carolina. The state is a national leader for solar power – trailing only California and Texas in the amount of solar power produced. Overall, Duke Energy has more than 3,700 MW of solar energy connected to its energy grid in the state.

The outlook for future solar power in North Carolina looks promising. In 2020, Duke Energy and most of the major solar industry developers in the Carolinas agreed to a defined process and timeline by which a substantial additional amount of new solar generation will be connected to the Duke Energy distribution system.

“Working with stakeholders will lead to more renewable energy in North Carolina at better prices for customers,” added De May. “Renewable energy will be a cornerstone of Duke Energy as we seek to reduce carbon emissions and generate cleaner energy.”

Almost 60% of Duke Energy’s generation in the Carolinas is carbon-free, with nuclear, solar and hydroelectric power being the leading sources of carbon-free generation.

Duke Energy helped large customers go solar in 2020 with its Green Source Advantage program. The City of Charlotte, Bank of America and Duke University are all pursuing new solar projects under the company’s program, which allows large energy users to negotiate directly with solar developers on independent solar projects.

Duke Energy is also getting innovative with new solar projects. At the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg, the company plans to build a 1.1-MW floating solar system as part of a $36 million energy services effort, which will also include infrastructure modernization, lighting and water upgrades, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and boiler system improvements. The floating solar project will be on Big Muddy Lake located at Camp Mackall.

It’s not just the Carolinas where Duke Energy is expanding renewable energy. In 2019, Duke Energy met its companywide goal of owning and contracting for 8,000 MW of wind, solar and biomass generation around the nation.

In 2020, the company set a new goal of doubling that figure by 2025. Today, the company has a portfolio of roughly 57,000 MW of generation, which includes all fuel sources.

Randy Wheeless's picture

Thank Randy for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 20, 2021

I'm enjoying watching the Carolina region be the east coast hub for solar!

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jan 23, 2021

Let's be clear - 2020 was a down year for utility solar from Duke. You said:

During 2020, Duke Energy connected almost 350 megawatts of solar power capacity...

However in your Jan 2019  press release

In 2018, Duke Energy connected more than 500 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity to the Carolinas' system. Over the past four years, Duke Energy has connected more than 2,500 MW to its grid in the Carolinas

So between 2015-2018 you added 625MW per year. This year = 2020 = 350MW. Down substantially.

Meanwhile, Duke in the Carolinas still has 10GW of coal capacity - which operated at about a 25% Capacity Factor in 2020. How about accelerating your IRP and closing a bunch of these plants in the next 5 years.

Duke Energy considers retiring 9,000 MW of coal, adding vast amounts of storage

Grade for Duke in 2020 = C

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