Duke Energy seeks bidders on $100 million North Carolina solar power project

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In a move to find suppliers and contractors to help add at least 16 MW of photovoltaic power to the North Carolina regional grid, Duke Energy Carolinas says it’s seeking bids from PV panel manufacturers, electrical equipment, and installation services specialist companies. The $100 million plan, originally announced in June, marks Duke’s first large-scale involvement in distributed power generation.

Beginning early next year, Duke Energy wants to install roof- and ground-mounted solar panels at as many as 850 North Carolina sites, including homes, schools, office buildings, shopping malls, warehouses, and large manufacturing facilities. The company says it would compensate homeowners, businesses, and other entities that offer their roofs or land for the program, based on the size of the installation and amount of electricity generated at any given location.

Under the program, Duke Energy would own and, through contractors, install and maintain the solar panels and would also own the electricity generated, which would be sent to the electrical grid. Installations would begin in early 2009, contingent on regulatory approval from the state’s utilities commission. The utility company hopes to complete all installations by late 2010.

The plan is the second major foray into solar power that the utility company has announced recently. In June, Duke said it would buy about 16 MW of solar-generated energy from one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic farms, to be built by SunEdison in Davidson County, NC, and set to be operational in late 2010.

Companies interested in bidding on the latest PV project can visit Duke’s renewable energy web page–www.duke-energy.com/environment/renewable-energy.asp–then click on “North Carolina Solar Distributed Generation Program.”

— Tom Cheyney

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