Florida regulators approve Duke plan to add 750 MW of solar


Florida utility regulators have approved Duke Energy’s plan to build nearly 750 MW of new utility-scale solar across the state.

The projects are each set to be 74.9 MW in capacity and are scheduled to have staggered completions over the four-year development outline: two would come online in January 2022, four in January 2023 and four in January 2024.

The plants are being constructed at exactly 74.9 MW due to Florida’s Power Plant Siting Act, which requires that any generation facilities above that capacity be subjected to additional siting supervision, which can add time to an already long development process.

Cost concerns

Cost became a point of contention during the regulatory review process, with Commissioner Julie Brown calling into question the $102 million to $113 million price tag of each project, roughly $1,360-1,508 a kW. Brown questioned the cost efficiency of the projects, comparing them to the 20-project proposal from Florida Power & Light (FPL) that was approved last March. Those came with a combined price tag of $1.8 billion, not too far off from the Duke projects’ combined price of $1 billion to $1.1 billion.

Alongside the project portfolio, regulators also approved Duke’s proposed “Clean Energy Connection Program.” The program will allow residential and small business customers to pay a voluntary monthly fee of $8.35 per kilowatt block to help finance the new projects. Participating customers also will receive a credit for their participation. For the first 36 months, the bill credit rate will be 4.037 cents per kWh, then increase by 1.5% every year.

This latest round of large-scale project announcements adds a substantial capacity load to the wave of utility-scale solar development under way in Florida.

The development rush is being led by Duke and FPL, with the two utilities combining to bring more than 2.2 GW of large-scale solar to the state in the next four years.  FPL’s roughly 1.5 GW of capacity is slated to come online this year.

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