Duke works with Navy on 17-MW solar project in Indiana

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) said Jan. 7 that it plans to add more renewable energy to its generation mix with the construction of a 17-MW (ac) solar facility at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane, located 40 miles southwest of Bloomington, Ind.

The company has requested a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. If approved, Duke Energy Indiana will own and operate the facility, which is expected to be placed into commercial service in 2016.

The solar facility will connect to the electric grid at a Duke Energy Indiana-owned substation on NSA Crane property. It will feature approximately 76,000 solar panels constructed on roughly 145 acres in the southeast portion of the naval base, making it one of the largest solar facilities in the state. The power generated by the solar facility will be available to Duke Energy Indiana customers and the Navy will continue to purchase power from Duke Energy Indiana.

“This project further advances our commitment to bring more renewable energy to our customers and we are pleased to again be working with the Department of the Navy,” said Melody Birmingham-Byrd, president of Duke Energy Indiana.

The facility marks the second solar project that Duke Energy is building in partnership with the Navy. The company announced in 2015 a 13-MW (ac) solar facility at Camp Lejeune in Eastern North Carolina, which is now operational.

“This project exhibits the Department of the Navy’s commitment to renewable energy,” said Cmdr. Timothy A. Craddock, NSA Crane commanding officer. “Likewise, it helps solidify Crane’s longevity as a community partner, providing local and regional energy security through diversified energy sources.”

Separate from this project, Duke Energy Indiana has signed agreements with solar developers to purchase up to 20 MW of solar power at four Indiana locations. Two of these solar facilities in Vigo and Clay counties are in service now; the remaining two facilities are expected to be in service in early 2016. In addition, the company, in coordination with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, is investing $1 million to fund research at the Battery Innovation Center near NSA Crane to study how battery storage can maximize renewable power sources, such as rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines, and integrate them into the electric grid.

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.