Is Duke Energy Investing in Solar Projects in North Carolina to Deflect Coal Ash Controversy?

Coal Ash

You may recall that Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February (the third largest coal ash spill on record),  and federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the spill and the relations between Duke and regulators at North Carolina’s  environmental agency.

Today Duke Energy announced the following:

It had substantial participation in response to its request for proposals (RFP) for 300 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy capacity in its Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress territories.

The company received bids for nearly three times the capacity being sought.

“The strong response to our RFP reflects on the healthy solar market in North Carolina,” said Rob Caldwell, vice president, Renewable Generation Development. “This RFP could allow Duke Energy to practically double its overall solar capacity in the state.”

The RFP, which was designed to assist Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress in meeting their respective North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards requirements, also allows Duke Energy to further its commitment to renewable energy and continue to diversify its resource mix in the Carolinas.

The RFP gave bidders the flexibility to offer power and associated renewable energy certificates, and/or to provide a turnkey proposal through which Duke Energy would acquire the new facility. Duke Energy received both types of bids.

Caldwell said the company is thoroughly evaluating each proposal and hopes to be able to select the winning projects and complete negotiations by Oct. 1, 2014. He added all selected projects should be online by Dec. 31, 2015.

“Our mission is to bring more renewable generation onto the Duke Energy system in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said Caldwell. “This RFP allows the company to take advantage of projects already in the planning stages. It will also allow each project to take advantage of the North Carolina state investment tax credits that expire at the end of 2015.”

The company’s RFP targeted solar facilities greater than 5 MW. It was limited to projects that were in the company’s current transmission and distribution interconnection queue as of Feb. 13, 2014, when the RFP was issued. Affiliates of Duke Energy were not allowed to participate in the RFP.

 

Given that the RFP was limited to projects that would require no transmission or distribution investment and could be implemented quickly, this seems like a half-hearted attempt to appear as if they are concerned about the environment.

Photo by Brian Stansberry/ CC BY 3.o

Tracey Smith About Tracey Smith
Tracey is an accountant and entrepreneur with a passion for nature. This passion is what spurred her interest in renewable energy, and the rest is history as they say. Tracey is a principal in Energy Think Group, the publisher of Solar Thermal Magazine and Tek-Think. She is also the principal at Women's Financial Help Desk. She spends her free time in the outdoors with her horses and dogs. She loves to travel.