Duke Energy has reached an agreement with developers of large solar farms that could limit where they build in North Carolina. But officials say new procedures won't slow the growth of solar here.
Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless said solar facilities in some areas are disrupting power to Duke customers. North Carolina is different from other states such as Arizona and California, where solar facilities typically are built in the desert, near high-voltage transmission lines.
In North Carolina, he said, "You've got a lot of projects in very rural areas, usually at the end of circuits that are low voltage, and the fluctuations of that solar can actually affect customers, and we've had a few complaints from customers about that."
The deal with 33 companies was filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission Monday. It allows Duke to make sure rural power lines are adequate before approving new interconnection requests from solar developers.
"We've got such solar growth in North Carolina, especially eastern North Carolina, that from the Duke Energy standpoint we need to take a tougher look at some of these projects, to make sure they're in the proper places and are really benefiting customers," Wheeless said.
In a compromise with developers, the agreement won't affect several larger projects in the late stages of development.
Wheeless said the new approval procedure could affect where new solar farms are located, but won't slow the expansion of solar power across the state. North Carolina currently ranks third in the U.S. for solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association.
DUKE ENERGY SOLAR POWER IN NC
- 500 megawatts (MW) – Solar facilities owned by Duke Energy in NC
- 1,300 MW solar capacity bought by Duke Energy from other companies in NC
- 3,300 MW – Proposed capacity of solar projects pending in NC
- 4,200 net metering customers in NC (customers with rooftop or back yard solar units, who sell their excess power back to the utility.)
N.C. Solar Facts from the Solar Energy Industries Association, http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/north-carolina
Map and details of Duke Energy's solar installations, https://www.duke-energy.com/north-carolina/renewable-energy/solar.asp
Information on net metering from Duke, https://www.duke-energy.com/generate-your-own-power/nc-rate-options-tariffs.asp