10 Comments

Summary:

The debate between massive solar thermal plants and distributed roof top solar projects continues to get more interesting every day. Duke Energy’s CEO Jim Rogers says the utility will build and operate solar power, and plans to invest $100 million in solar rooftops, both commercial and […]

The debate between massive solar thermal plants and distributed roof top solar projects continues to get more interesting every day. Duke Energy’s CEO Jim Rogers says the utility will build and operate solar power, and plans to invest $100 million in solar rooftops, both commercial and residential, according to the Charlotte Business Journal reports. Duke still needs to get permission from the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

This is part of an emerging trend of utilities throwing their considerable assets behind solar installations as a way to own solar power generation. Utilities are feeling pressure from their home states’ renewable portfolio standards to incorporate more renewable energy sources. (North Carolina has a renewable portfolio standard that goes into effect in 2012 and will require utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.) Utilities are able to leverage their balance sheets to get capital at far better rates than small startups, allowing them to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in solar development.

Southern California Edison announced plans in March to invest $875 million in 250 megawatts of solar covering some 2 square miles of rooftops. PG&E’s CEO Peter Darbee recently told us that the company is in discussions to build and own its own solar power plants, but that there are some barriers for regulated utilities to cash in on the investment tax credits for solar. (Also check out our video interview with Darbee.)

Duke’s plan to spend $100 million on its own solar generation, is good news for an energy company that generates 70 percent of its power from coal, making it the third-largest consumer of coal in the United States. To his credit Rogers has been an advocate of backing renewable energy, and just last week called for “a small fee on every kilowatt-hour of electricity sold in the U.S.,” which he says would raise $11 billion annually for renewable energy research and development.

PG&E’s Darbee is calling for a change in policy whereby utilities could benefit from the investment tax credit (ITC) to build solar plants. Letting utilities tap into the ITC could be one of the best ways to connect considerable capital with solar power construction.

  1. [...] $250 million dollar plan to install solar energy systems on commercial rooftops earlier this year. Duke’s plan to spend $100 million on its own solar generation, is good news for an energy company that generates 70 percent of its power from coal, making it the third-largest [...]

    Share
  2. From http://www.duke-energy.com/investors/publications/annual/ar-2006/letter/chairmans-letter.html:
    “We anticipate annual capital expenditures of approximately $3.5 billion from 2007 through 2009 for expansion of our generation capacity, environmental retrofits, nuclear fuel, maintenance and other expenses. Included in this amount is expansion capital for:

    Expanding generation in North Carolina
    Planning a new cleaner-coal integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant in Indiana, and
    Exploring the development of a new nuclear plant in South Carolina.”

    For a company that is doing so well for its shareholders, $100 million worth of investment in solar seems quite conservative when compared to the $3.5 billion investment listed above. I would like to see a much larger commitment to renewables and far less to nuclear and coal.

    Share
  3. [...] is the second large photovoltaic deal from Duke Energy in the last month. Earlier Duke announced plans to invest $100 million in a distributed solar roof program whereby it would build and operate solar installations on residential and commercial [...]

    Share
  4. [...] 4th, 2008 at 4:30 pm in Energy Duke Energy is calling on solar companies to bid on its planned $100 million distributed rooftop solar project in North Carolina. The power company says interested parties can check out this section of their [...]

    Share
  5. [...] Posted October 23rd, 2008 at 4:55 pm in Energy Duke Energy has decided to cut in half its $100 million distributed solar rooftop program after the utility was criticized during the permitting process by the Vote Solar Initiative and [...]

    Share
  6. [...] Energy has decided to cut in half its $100 million distributed solar rooftop program after the utility was criticized during the permitting process by the Vote Solar Initiative and [...]

    Share
  7. [...] Energy has decided to cut in half its $100 million distributed solar rooftop program after the utility was criticized during the permitting process by the Vote Solar Initiative and [...]

    Share
  8. [...] Today’s milestone follows some not-so-great news out of North Carolina in October, where a similar rooftop solar program was cut in half by Duke Energy after that company was criticized by the state’s utility commission over issues of cost recovery. Duke now plans to spend $50 million to install 10 MW of solar panels in North Carolina, down from its original $100 million initiative. [...]

    Share
  9. [...] is not the first glitch for Duke’s solar rooftop project. It initially envisioned a $100 million, 20-megawatt program, but was forced cut the project by half, Dow Jones reports, [...]

    Share
  10. [...] week’s announcement comes on the heels of a major blow dealt by regulators to Duke Energy and its North Carolina solar rooftop program, which could put [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post