Duke seeks North Carolina approval for solar project on U.S. Marine base

Duke Energy Progress applied Feb. 2 at the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct a 12.8-MW (ac) solar facility on an 80-acre site at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Onslow County, North Carolina.

Parent Duke Energy (NYSEL DUK) had publicly announced this project on Jan 22.

“The Facility represents a unique opportunity for DEP to procure cost effective Renewable Energy Credits (‘RECs’) for purposes of complying with the North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (‘REPS’) while assisting the U.S. Department of the Navy to meet critical national energy security initiatives,” said the Feb. 2 application. “For the reasons stated below, DEP respectfully requests that the Commission approve this CPCN request. Given the beneticial economics if the project is placed in-service prior to December 31, 2015, DEP would appreciate the Commission’s prompt consideration of this request.”

The facility will interconnect on the low-voltage side of the DEP Camp Lejeune 12.5/230-kV substation via new 12.5-kV lines from the facility. The proposed interconnection route between the project site and the substation will run parallel to existing distribution lines east of the site. Duke Energy Progress said it will execute a site lease with a fair market rental value with the Department of the Navy for the facility and interconnection route.

“Duke Energy Progress is working to comply in a cost effective manner with renewable energy targets established through the North Carolina general statutes,” said the utility. “In order to leverage both state and federal tax incentives that help to lower the cost of RECs, DEP jointly issued a 300 MW solar RFP in February 2014 with Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (‘DEC’). Through the RFP, DEP solicited both Purchase Power Agreements (‘PPAs’) and solar asset purchase proposals from projects that could be placed in-service prior to the North Carolina Energy Tax Credit (‘North Carolina ETC’) expiring on December 31, 2015. Both DEC and DEP negotiated agreements for 278 MWs, awarding contracts for both PPAs and solar asset purchases. On December 8, 2014, the Commission approved the CPCN transfer for the three solar asset purchase projects to DEP totaling 128 MWs.

“Several months after the RFP was issued, the Navy approached Duke Energy Corporation (‘Duke Energy’) seeking support for a major national security initiative aimed at ensuring that strategic military installations can operate during times of emergency when the electrical grid is unable to provide power. Part of the initiative includes a directive to site generation facilities on military bases that utilize renewable energy resources. The Navy is not always interested in owning or having operational responsibility for such facilities. Therefore, it asked if Duke Energy would be able to own and operate a solar facility at Camp Lejeune.”

Duke Energy has selected Crowder Construction Services, a North Carolina-based construction firm, to construct the Camp Lejeune Solar Project. Startup, commissioning and performance testing of the facility is expected to begin in November 2015 and continue through December 2015. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.