Duke to acquire, uprate long-planned solar project in North Carolina

First Solar Development LLC and Duke Energy Carolinas on Dec. 15 applied with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to both transfer a solar project to Duke, and to uprate that project from 40 MW (ac) in size to 59.4 MW (ac).

First Solar is the sole member of Inactive SPE Holdings LLC, the successor by merger with Rocky River Solar LLC. It and Duke plan to transfer to Duke a commission-issued Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), and the associated rights and assets, for a Union County, North Carolina, solar project. Duke will use this project as a cost-effective resource for compliance with North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS).

Further, this subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) requested that the CPCN be modified from a 40-MW facility to a 59.4-MW facility. The CPCN was first issued at the smaller project size in January 2013.

Said the Dec. 15 application: “The addition of the Facility to DEC’s REPS compliance resource portfolio is in the public interest as it will bring material quantities of solar Renewable Energy Credits (‘RECs’) for long-term compliance and work in combination with the Company’s other REC procurement efforts to provide a low-cost, balanced REPS compliance solution over lime. This project will also help to ensure that DEC’s customers receive the benefits, through the lower cost of REPS compliance, of the Federal Investment Tax Credit (‘Federal ITC’) which is set to reduce on December 31 , 2016.”

Rocky River Solar was formed in 2012 by Element Power US LLC. First Solar acquired Rocky River through a membership interest purchase agreement in 2013. First Solar advanced development of the project, but ultimately ceased its efforts and did not renew the land lease agreement with the landowner. On Dec. 7, 2015, Rocky River was merged with and into Inactive SPE Holdings.

After the lease with Rocky River expired, Birdseye Renewable Energy LLC formed Corn Solar LLC in November 2014, and negotiated a new lease agreement with the landowner. Birdseye then continued development activities to support construction of a solar project on this land. This included permitting activities and advancing the transmission interconnection application. DEC will acquire the development rights from Birdseye.

This facility is to be located on a site near the corner of S. Rocky River Road and Doster Road in Monroe, Union County. The facility will be located within DEC’s North Carolina service territory.

Based on the expected engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) schedule, the facility is capable of being placed in-service before the end of 2016. The project’s size was upped to a nameplate capacity of 59.4-MW (ac) due to Corn’s ability to lease additional land from the landowner and improved efficiency of the panels. The facility will utilize thin film First Solar PV modules affixed to ground-mounted racks supported by driven piles (or other suitable racking as site soil conditions may require), industry standard inverters, and additional equipment to support the facility (transformers, circuit breakers, combiners, surge arrestors, conductors, junction boxes, disconnect switch, connection cabling, and SCADA plant controllers).

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.