Duke Energy to Build 'Mini' Solar Power Plants

Industrial plants among structures that will receive panel installations by Duke

Duke Energy plans to build between 100 and 400 electricity-generating mini solar power plants throughout North Carolina over the next two years that will include panel installations at manufacturing facilities, the company said May 7.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has permitted 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 company said. The electricity will flow directly from the solar sites to the electrical grid that serves all customers.

Duke Energy touts the solar initiative as one of 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," CEO Jim Rogers told shareholders attending the company's annual 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.

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