Duke reports solid RFP response

Duke Energy says it has received bids for nearly three times the 300MW of new solar energy capacity it is seeking for service areas largely in North Carolina.

"The strong response to our request for proposals reflects on the healthy solar market in North Carolina," said Rob Caldwell, vice president, renewable generation development.

He says Duke hopes to be able to select the winning projects – all greater than 5MW - and complete negotiations by 1 October. All selected projects should be online by 31 December 2015.

Utility spokesman Randy Wheeless says that federal law requires Duke to buy solar power from projects under that amount at a pre-established tariff. Duke now purchases 350MW of utility-scale solar in North Carolina and also owns 10MW of generating capacity.

The RFP gave bidders flexibility to offer power and associated renewable energy certificates, and/or to provide a turnkey proposal through which Duke would acquire the new facility. Duke received both types of bids.

It was limited to projects that were in the company's current transmission and distribution interconnection queue as of 13 February, when the RFP was issued.

"Our mission is to bring more renewable generation onto the Duke Energy system in the most cost-effective manner possible," says Caldwell, noting that project winners can take advantage of the North Carolina state investment tax credits that expire at the end of 2015.

North Carolina ranks fourth among states with 557MW of installed solar capacity trailing California, Arizona and New Jersey.