Although Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has been spending heavily on generation in recent years, especially new natural gas power plants, Chairman, President and CEO Lynn Good said Aug. 4 to expect more investment in grid upgrades and renewables.
“I think the one thing I would point out, if you look at the profile of Duke over the last 5 to 10 years, our growth has been more heavily weighted toward generation,” according to a transcript from Duke’s latest quarterly earnings conference call provided by Seeking Alpha.
The Duke CEO went on to say that she sees “a lot of potential in distribution, grid, transmission and customer [services] that we’ll continue to find opportunities to put capital to work over the next five years,” Good said. “Renewables are another area that I think will continue beyond the five-year period,” Good said.
A slide presentation included in the financial earnings materials notes that Duke has won regulatory approval for a $1.4bn transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure program investment in Indiana. Likewise, a roughly $1bn investment in T&D infrastructure in Ohio will be recoverable via riders.
The CEO said that over the last three years Duke has focused increased attention on renewable energy in its regulated service areas. This includes a number of solar investments in North and South Carolina.
In May, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) approved two new solar projects totaling 65 MW in the Duke Energy Carolina service territory. Both of these projects are expected to be online in the first quarter of 2017.
“We announced one in Indiana and we’ve had a number in Florida as well. And that team has delivered probably between 250 and 300 MW of owned renewables in all of our jurisdictions. We believe that’s going to be increasingly important as we go forward,” Good said.
In Florida, Good said Duke has a site plan that has 500 MW of renewable projects being developed over the next 10 years.
In Indiana, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approved a 17-MW solar plant at the Crane Naval Station, the second-largest solar power plant in the state. “Per Indiana statute, we will recover 100% of the cost of the project via a clean energy investment rider,” Good said.
“We also had several positive developments regarding our grid modernization efforts. On June 29, the Indiana Commission approved our previously filed settlement agreement for our seven-year $1.4 billion plan to build a smarter energy infrastructure, which is now under way,” Good said.
“In Kentucky, we filed a request to deploy smart meters in our service territory; while in South Carolina, we received an accounting order from the commission allowing Duke Energy Carolinas to defer the cost of smart meter investments until the next rate case,” Good said.
The programs will provide much needed technology and infrastructure upgrades, the Duke CEO said.
Good also praised Duke Energy workers response to storm restoration. In June, the company was recognized by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) with the association’s Emergency Recovery Award for outstanding power restoration efforts in the Carolinas following Winter Storm Jonas earlier this year, Good said.