Duke Energy announces plans for new renewable energy program in South Carolina

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Photo by Jack Lukow for the Upstate Business Journal.

Duke Energy Corp. is looking to expand renewable energy options for its commercial and industrial customers in South Carolina.

The Charlotte-based utility recently proposed a program to the South Carolina Public Service Commission that would allow its large business customers in the Palmetto State to receive “bill credits” for electricity generated by a solar site not located on their premises, according to a news release.

If approved by the Public Service Commision, the Green Source Advantage program would also enable participating customers to retain renewable energy certificates produced by their facility, the release said.

“We’ve received significant interest from our large commercial and industrial customers in offering programs that help them meet their sustainability goals,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president, in the release. “The Green Source Advantage program will leverage renewable energy options to do just that.”

Duke’s proposed program will be offered to customers with large-scale power demands — 3 megawatts worth of demand for a single facility or a total of 5 megawatts of demand for multiple sites, according to the release.

The program, if approved, would provide up to a total of 150 megawatts (MW) of reserved renewable energy capacity statewide 113 MW to customers of Duke Energy Carolinas, which primarily serves the Upstate, and 37 MW for customers of Duke Energy Progress, which primarily serves the Pee Dee region including Florence and Sumter counties, the release said.

Under the program, participating customers would be required to negotiate power-purchase agreements with independent solar developers to buy energy from facilities within the same utility service.

Duke would then buy the power and distribute bill credits onto the customer, while ensuring “other customers are held financially neutral,” according to the company’s filing with the Public Service Commission.

The Green Source Advantage program builds on policy efforts to expand renewable energy in South Carolina, the release said.

South Carolina’s solar industry, for instance, has experienced rapid growth in recent years, largely due to the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act.

The act, which was passed by the House and Senate in 2014, allows the state’s electric utility companies to recover expenses incurred to install solar panels. In 2015, Duke announced that it was offering rebates to South Carolina customers to help offset the initial costs of installing solar on their property.

The program offers $1 per watt for customers who install systems up to 20 kilowatts on their property and for businesses that install systems up to 1 megawatt. More than 750 residential customers and 35 businesses have applied for solar rebates since 2015, creating more than 30 megawatts of solar power and $5 million in rebates.

Duke hit the state’s 2 percent net metering cap for residential solar earlier this year but has since filed a petition with the Public Service Commission to extend that cap through March 15, 2019.

For more information, visit www.duke-energy.com.  

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