Duke proposes community solar, green tariff programs

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Duke Energy is one of the American power companies that exemplifies the strategy of trying to get ahead of the shift to renewable energy by finding ways to build renewables and deliver the benefits to its customers while maintaining its business model and control over key aspects of procurement.

But sometimes a little nudging helps anyway. As part of its commitments under recent compromise legislation with the North Carolina solar industry, Duke has filed with North Carolina regulators to create both a community solar program and a “green tariff” option for the military, universities and other large power users to procure electricity from renewable energy installations.

The Shared Solar program will allow customers to subscribe to a portion of the community solar plants to receive credits on their bills. The utility says it wants to start with 1 MW-AC projects in Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress territories to gauge customer interest. It says the community plants will be built by third parties.

Under the Green Source Advantage program, military bases, universities and large power users will be able to either purchase renewable energy through the existing competitive process or by partnering with a solar developer. Duke notes that the programs will also give customers some flexibility as to how they negotiate contract terms.

Duke will be able to offer up to 600 MW through the program over a five-year span, and the company is proposing that 100 MW of this go to military bases, 250 MW for the University of North Carolina, and 250 MW for other customers.

This program will not be available to small business or residential customers. In order to participate, customers must have at least 1 MW of peak demand in a single location or a total of 5 MW of demand across multiple sites.

Both programs must be approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission before they can proceed.

These two are part of a larger portfolio of solutions that the company is offering as part of its compliance with HB 589, the recent compromise legislation that changed key details of implementation of the Public Utilities Regulatory Power Act of 1978.

Along with the community solar and green tariff programs, Duke has proposed a $62 million solar rebate program for residential and commercial and industrial customers. Under this program, the utility would provide $0.60 per watt in rebates.