Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy will build between 100 and 400 electricity-generating mini solar power plants throughout North Carolina over the next two years in one of the first large-scale initiatives of its kind in the United States, according to CEO Jim Rogers. "Solar and wind are both going to be key parts of our strategy going forward," Rogers told reporters following the company's annual meeting.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission, Raleigh, N.C., recently issued a decision allowing Duke Energy to proceed with its $50-million proposal to install solar panels on the roofs and grounds of homes, schools, office buildings, shopping malls, warehouses, and industrial plants, starting later this year. Collectively, the solar sites will generate enough electricity to power 1,300 homes. The electricity will flow directly from the solar sites to the electrical grid that serves all customers.
Duke Energy's solar initiative will be among the nation's first and largest demonstrations of distributed generation, in which electricity is produced at numerous micro generating sites rather than at a large, centralized, traditional power plant. "We are redefining our boundaries. We're looking ahead and we're looking around the corner," Rogers told shareholders attending the meeting. "We believe the future is a low-carbon world. The 21st century mission of our company is to decarbonize our energy supply and provide universal access to energy efficiency."
Duke Energy will own and maintain the solar panels during their expected 25-year lifespan. The company also will own the electricity generated. It will pay a rental fee to property owners who host the panels for use of their roofs or land, based on the size of the installation and amount of electricity generated at any given site. Property owners interested in having their home, business or land considered as a potential solar site can register online at the Duke Energy Web site. Properties must be located in North Carolina and currently served by Duke Energy.