Duke enters NC-DC supply deal

Duke Energy Renewables will supply 52MW of solar power from North Carolina to a hospital and two universities in Washington, DC, a project that backers say is the largest non-utility contracted deal of its kind in the US.

Duke will develop, operate and own the PV project, which is actually three separate plants near one another in northeast North Carolina.It did not reveal the project’s cost.

It expects to break ground on the first site this summer, complete it and begin delivering power by the end of this year. The remaining two sites will become fully operational in fourth quarter 2015.All three are located on privately-owned land.

Under the 20-year deal, the Capital Partners Solar Project will supply 53% of electricity utilized annually by American University and George Washington University, and 32% consumed by George Washington University Hospital.

The three institutions will purchase the project’s full nameplate capacity. It will generate 123 million kWh of electricity per year.

Customer First Renewables “facilitated” the project, working with the buyers to devise the best strategy for contracting renewable energy and finding a supplier, Ed Lieberman, vice president customer development, tells Recharge.

The company is based in the nation’s capital.

While terms of the power purchase agreement were not made public, the buyers say it shows that large organizations in an urban setting can partner to significantly reduce their carbon footprints by receiving off-site solar energy.

“This will greatly accelerate our progress toward the carbon neutrality target we had earlier set for 2025,” says Steven Knapp, president of George Washington University.

Lieberman notes that the fixed-price contract will result in a lower total price than existing power solutions. It is also expected to yield greater economic savings for the partners as traditional power prices are anticipated to increase at a higher rate over the next two decades.