Duke Power, solar builders make a deal to clear utility-scale solar backlog in Carolinas
Duke Energy announced several agreements with solar developers and third-party industry associations to create a better interconnection framework to enable more utility-scale solar energy in the Carolinas. Let’s take a look and see what these will do.
Agreement No. 1
First, Duke Energy and most of the major solar industry developers in North Carolina and South Carolina have established a defined process and schedule for adding a significant additional amount of solar energy to the Duke Energy distribution system. The list includes:
- Renewable Energy from Birdseye,
- Carolina Solar Energy LLC
- Cypress Creek Renewables
- Pine Gate Renewables
- South current
- National Renewable Energy Corp.
- Strata Solar and Strata Solar Development,
- DEPCOM Power,
- Ecoplexus, Inc.
Solar projects with a total output of several hundred megawatts (MW) are to be completed in 2021 and 2022 (in addition to the projects already running). The parties also agreed to resolve several longstanding formal and informal interconnection disputes. Two objectives set out in the agreement:
1. Resolves actual and potential disputes regarding 100+ final reports for older distribution-level solar connection requirements that completed construction from 2018-2020
2. Provides a clear pathway for solving certain outstanding outstanding interconnection requirements by facilitating a certain number of additional interconnections according to defined schedules and with the benefit of likely limiting interconnection costs while all other outstanding utility-scale distribution-linked solar projects are carried out either in the transition cluster study 2 accepted or voluntarily withdrawn.
The parties have filed a Notice of Settlement with the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) and SC Public Service Commission (SCPSC) to seek regulatory approval for certain limited exemptions required to implement the Agreement.
“We are very excited to have entered into this agreement with Duke Energy,” said Steve Levitas, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Pine Gate Renewables, a fully integrated utility-scale solar developer based in Asheville, NC. Hard work, creativity and loyalty Faith on both sides. We look forward to continuing to work with Duke to meet the need for clean energy resources in the Carolinas. “
Agreement No. 2
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 in the interconnection process. This change – commonly referred to as “queue reform” – moves the connection process from analyzing each individual request to a more efficient process of examining connection requests in clusters.
The cluster study methodology has been adopted by several states and system operators across the country and offers a more predictable route to interconnection. Only those projects are examined that are to be operational within a certain period of time.
This new study process removes the backlog caused when “finished” projects were delayed while the utility sometimes examined speculative projects that were higher in the utility interconnection queue. The result was a slower process for everyone.
Queuing reform has been in development in the Carolinas for more than a year and is the result of an extensive stakeholder process that led to the consensus approach.
The implementation of the queue reform must be approved by the NCUC, SCPSC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The submission also included a proposal to create more security for third parties with regard to future interconnection costs.
Overall, Duke Energy has more than 3,500 MW of solar capacity connected to its power grid in the Carolinas – roughly the same as for more than 600,000 customers. The company has hooked up more than 500 solar panels operated by other companies in the Carolinas.
Keywords: Renewable Energy from Birdseye, Carolina Solar Energy LLC, Cypress Creek Renewables, DEPCOM Power, Duke Energy, Ecoplexus, National Renewable Energy Corp., Renewable Energy from Pine Gate, Southern Current, Strata Solar, Strata Solar Development, utility scale