The 5-megawatt Kings Mountain solar farm in Cleveland County, N.C., will generate enough electricity to power 616 average homes in the state.
It also gets Duke Energy Carolinas closer to its goal of getting 12.5 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2021, said Duke spokesman Jason Walls.
Duke Energy has two arms. While its energy investment arm is buying and building solar electric plants all over the country, the utility arms in each of the jurisdictions they serve are working to meet state renewable energy portfolio requirements.
Duke Energy Carolinas has been working hard with customers to build distributed generation solar, Walls said.
“We have more than 10 megawatts of distributed rooftop solar,” he said. “That was especially successful in 2010 and 2011.”
He said the falling cost of solar panels has put solar within economic reach of more people, and it has become increasingly popular among Duke customers.
While the distributed generation is successful, Duke is also working toward its portfolio goals with utility-scale solar installations.
The company has a 15.5-megawatt solar project in Davidson, N.C.
The new Kings Mountain project was developed in partnership with Strata Solar, which designed, developed and built the array. Duke signed a 20-year, power-purchase agreement with Strata, who will also maintain the system.
Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric power generation facilities. It’s a diverse mix. But the company’s new solar investments are its first in renewable resources other than hydroelectric generation.
Duke has a lot of confidence in solar and its growth potential, Walls said. And it’s focusing on solar to help it achieve the 12.5 percent renewable energy portfolio standard.
“We’re in a good position to meet that goal,” Walls said. “We’re always interested in looking at projects where we can grow that.”
Image courtesy of Strata Solar.