Duke building central N.C. coast solar project

A Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) unit is building a 12.5-MW solar farm on the central North Carolina coast that could double in size to be the state’s largest.

Duke Energy Renewables is a unit of Duke Energy said the 85-acre Washington White Post Solar project will be the largest the company has built on the East Coast.

The will be among the largest in the state. Apple is finishing a 20-MW solar farm at its data center in Catawba County.

It could be expanded to twice that size but there are no plans at this time, according to a company spokesperson. However, Duke plans to install a 25-MW interconnection system to the grid from the site.

The $40m project will employ 100 to 125 local workers and should be completed by the end of the year. Output will be sold to the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency under a 15-year power purchase agreement. The agency serves 32 towns and cities that own their electric systems.

Duke Energy Renewables operates 73 MW of commercial solar energy capacity, including seven existing N.C. sites and five sites in Arizona, Texas and Florida. It also operates more than 1,000 MW of wind-energy projects in several states.

Blue Wing Solar in San Antonio is its largest, a 14 MW solar farm that was purchased in 2010 and comes a 30-year power purchase agreement to sell all of the output from the solar farm and associated renewable energy credits to San Antonio-based CPS Energy.

Earlier this year, Duke bought the 5-MW Ajo Solar Project in southern Arizona and the 15-MW Bagdad Solar Project in north-central Arizona. The plants each have 25-year agreements with Arizona Public Service, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE: PNW). The Arizona projects are Duke’s first in Arizona and in the West.

Duke also bought a 10-MW solar plant near Kingman, Ariz. from Solon Corp. Power from the Black Mountain Solar Project will be sold to UniSource Energy (NYSE: UNS) under a 20-year power contract.