61-MW solar project in North Carolina to get built based on sales to Google

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) said Nov. 24 that under the Green Source Rider program of subsidiary Duke Energy Carolinas, internet company Google will meet a portion of the power demand from a data center in Lenoir with solar energy.

A 61-MW solar project to meet this need will be constructed in Rutherford County in Duke Energy Carolinas’ service territory. Under a power purchase agreement with the Rutherford Farms LLC solar project, Duke Energy will secure power to meet the need of Google’s expanded data center.

“Google was a driver behind Duke Energy seeking approval for the Green Source Rider,” said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources. “Having Google as the first company to publicly announce its participation is extremely satisfying. We believe this will lead to similar announcements in the future.”

Enrollment in the Green Source Rider means Google will use renewable energy sources for a portion of the energy supplied to its expanded data center in the city of Lenoir. Under the program, Duke Energy and Google agreed on the specific project and additional costs associated with energy from the facility. Other Duke Energy customers will not pay for the project.

“We’ve agreed to purchase 1.2 gigawatts of renewable power globally and we’re working to power 100 percent of our operations with renewables. As we pursue that goal, this is a really big moment for us and we’re thrilled to have created this program with Duke Energy,” said Gary Demasi, Google’s head of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy. “Not only does it enable us to purchase renewable energy for our North Carolina operations, it will empower others in the state to do the same.”

In 2013, Google announced an additional investment of $600 million to expand the Lenoir data center, and at the same time collaborated with Duke Energy to create the Green Source Rider program for large customers seeking renewable energy supply in the Duke Energy Carolinas territory.

Over the past eight years, Duke Energy has invested more than $4 billion in wind and solar facilities in 12 states. The company plans to invest about $3 billion in renewable energy over the next five years. Duke Energy is currently wrapping up a $500 million solar expansion in North Carolina, with the completion of four major solar facilities in Bladen, Duplin, Onslow and Wilson counties. Overall, Duke Energy companies have more than 20 solar facilities in North Carolina, and purchases power from more than 600 other solar facilities.

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.