6-MW Duke solar project in N.C. is sailing through the approval process

Saying that no opposition to the project has appeared, and that Duke Energy Carolinas is working out issues with North Carolina Utilities Commission staff, the commission on May 13 cancelled a May 16 hearing for a 6-MW (ac) solar project.

On March 3, Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to construct a 6-MW solar photovoltaic facility to be located on a 116-acre parcel owned by DEC in Rowan County, North Carolina. On May 11, the Clearinghouse Coordinator of the Office of Policy and Planning of the Department of Administration filed final comments with the commission stating that because of the nature of the comments no further review is needed by the commission to determine compliance with the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act.

On May 11, a local public witness hearing was held in Salisbury. No public witnesses provided testimony in opposition to the application. DEC then asked to cancel the May 16 evidentiary hearing.

Said the May 13 order: “Based on the foregoing and the record, the Presiding Commissioner finds good cause to cancel the evidentiary hearing scheduled for Monday, May 16, 2016. Further, the Presiding Commissioner finds good cause to accept into the record DEC’s application, the direct testimony and exhibits filed by DEC witness Northrup, and the affidavits of Public Staff witnesses…. Finally, the Presiding Commissioner finds good cause to direct that DEC and the Public Staff shall file proposed orders, or a joint proposed order, on or before Friday, June 10, 2016.”

In April 18 testimony, James S. Northrup, employed as Director, Wholesale and Renewables Analytics by Duke Energy Business Services LLC, outlined DEC’s plans for this project. Both companies are subsidiaries of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

He wrote: “[U]pon approval from the Commission,  the DEC-owned and operated Woodleaf Solar Facility (‘Facility’) will be constructed as a solar photovoltaic (‘PV’) electric generation facility located at the intersection of NC Highway 801 and Old U.S. 70 near the town of Barber in Rowan County, North Carolina, and will be situated on an approximately 116-acre parcel of land owned by DEC.

“Duke Energy Carolinas has a significant long-term need for Renewable Energy Credits (‘RECs’) to comply with the requirements of North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (‘REPS’). [Under North Carolina statute], DEC, as an electric supplier, is required to comply with the overall REPS requirement of RECs equivalent to 6% in 2015, 10% in 2018, and 12.5% in 2021 and thereafter.

“To meet its long-term, overall REPS obligation of 12.5% of North Carolina retail sales in 2021 (and continuing annually thereafter), DEC must procure approximately an additional 670,000 RECs in 2019, with that amount growing to three million RECs by 2020. DEC’s current and projected future compliance position already accounts for utilization of cost-effective energy efficiency savings and out-of-state RECs to meet portions of that future compliance need.

“The Facility represents a unique opportunity for DEC to procure these cost effective RECs for purposes of complying with REPS beginning in the 2016-2017 timeframe. The total installed cost of the Facility compares favorably with the projects selected from the February 2014 DEC-[Duke Energy Progress] joint RFP, including DEP’s Commission-approved Warsaw, Fayetteville, Elm City, and Camp Lejeune solar facilities. The Facility also incorporates an advanced single axis tracking system enabling increased solar production throughout the daylight hours, thereby providing more renewable energy than conventional fixed axis solar technology.”

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.