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Duke Energy to expand solar in Carolinas

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Duke Energy and third-party solar developers as well as industry organizations are collaborating to create a pathway for more solar energy in the Carolinas. 

Duke Energy and most of the major solar developers in North Carolina and South Carolina have agreed on a specified process and timetable that will link a significant additional amount of solar generation to the Duke Energy distribution system.

“These agreements continue to advance renewable energy in the Carolinas. Collaborative engagement was key to taking this important step forward.”

Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president.

A total of several hundred megawatts of solar projects will be planned for completion in 2021 and 2022 (in addition to those already underway). The parties have agreed to settle a variety of long-standing formal and informal interconnection conflicts.

The parties have filed a notice of settlement with the N.C. Utilities Commission (NCUC) and the S.C. Public Service Commission (SCPSC) requesting the regulatory approval of certain narrow exemptions required for the enforcement of the agreement.

“We’re very pleased to have reached this agreement with Duke Energy. It took a lot of hard work, creativity and good faith by both sides. We look forward to continuing to work with Duke to meet the need for clean energy resources in the Carolinas.”

Steve Levitas, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at Pine Gate Renewables.

Duke Energy has reached a resolution with the North Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association to implement a fundamental change to the interconnection process.

This transition–generally referred to as the “queue reform”–moves the method of interconnection from one by one review of of request to a more effective process of analyzing cluster interconnection requests.

The cluster analysis approach has been implemented by many states and device operators around the nation and offers a more reliable route to interconnection–researching only those projects that are dedicated to being operational within a certain period of time.

This new research method would remove the backlog that was generated when “ready” projects were postponed while the utility researched risky projects that were at a higher stage in the utility interconnection queue. The result was a slower process for all of us.

The queue reform has been under development in the Carolina area for more than a year and is the culmination of a large stakeholder process that culminated in a consensus approach.

Implementation of the queue reform would require the approval of the NCUC, SCPSC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The proposal to provide greater clarity on possible costs of interconnection for third parties was also included in the request.

The Carolina area is one of the fastest growing solar energy regions in the country. North Carolina is the nation’s No. 2 for total solar capacity.

Nedim Husomanovic

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