Duke to create solar leasing program for North Carolina C&I customers

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Duke Energy has filed with the with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to become a certified solar lessor in the Tar Heel State.

Potential projects would be sold to qualified commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to alleviate some of the upfront cost of solar. In return, Duke Energy Clean Energy Resources (DECER), an affiliate of Duke Energy not funded by the company’s operating North Carolina utilities, Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, would build, own and operate the systems.

The idea is for DECER to target businesses, who would then negotiate for systems up to 1 MW and for a term of up to 20 years. DECER also plans to work with local solar construction and maintenance companies on these projects.

“Customers want more solar power for their operations, but the large upfront investment can be an obstacle,” said president of Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology Rob Caldwell. “Through DECER, we will be competing to provide customers a turnkey solar solution to meet their renewable energy goals, while managing the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facility.”

1 MW is huge, and most customers will utilize much smaller systems, but that cap allows DECER to work with the largest businesses in the state.

The legal basis for this program in North Carolina came with last year’s passing of North Carolina House Bill 589, known as the  Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law. It’s the same law that called for the creation of community solar programs by all offering utilities in the state.

This is the second program in the last two weeks that Duke has set up for nonresidential customers, with the other being the company’s energy and renewable energy credit purchase program for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers proposed in South Carolina.

It follows on other moves that Duke has made in this space, and late last year Duke assumed ownership of REC Solar, the nation’s third-largest C&I solar developer.