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Duke Deal With Solar Developers Could Speed More Development


North Carolina's large solar developers and Duke Energy have reached agreements on key issues that have delayed many projects. Duke says that could get more solar farms online faster. 

North Carolina ranks No. 2 among U.S. states for solar capacity. Despite that, developers of large-scale solar farms have complained in recent years that Duke makes it difficult to build new solar projects. Duke said the new agreements set deadlines for connecting projects to its electrical grid and will speed up reviews of new projects. 

Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless said that in the past, new solar projects were studied one at a time, which made it slow to get through the list of connection requests. Now, Duke will study clusters of projects at once. 

"That way we could study more projects quicker. We can weed out the ones that maybe aren't going anywhere," Wheeless said. "And the ones that … really are going to be built will get to the top quicker. And, because they get studied quicker, they'll get online quicker."

Two years ago, 500 solar projects were awaiting Duke's review and approval for connections to its electric grid.  It's now about 300, and Wheeless said this week Duke hopes these agreements will erase that backlog and get new projects up and running more quickly.

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